The San Andreas fault, California

There are thousands of earthquakes across the Earth each day. Most are too small to be detected without monitoring equipment, but some are powerful enough to destroy a city. Sendai, Los Angles, Kobe, Christchurch and Bam are the names of some of the places that have been affected by powerful earthquakes in recent years.

Earthquakes are most common at plate boundaries. The relative motion of two plates releases energy into the crust and causes faults to form and move. When two plates or a fault lock up, with little or no movement over a long time period, the result is a large earthquake when they eventually unlock and quickly release a large amount of energy.

Learn more with the BBC News animated earthquake guide.

Image: The San Andreas fault, California (Peter Menzel/SPL)


The San Andreas fault, California Earthquakes

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