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AuthorCassidy, J F
SourceEncylopaedia of natural hazards; by Bobrowsky, P T (ed.); Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series vol. 41, 2013 p. 208-223
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20100066
Subjectsgeophysics; earthquakes; earthquake mechanisms; earthquake studies; earthquake magnitudes
Illustrationslocation maps; photographs; tables
ProgramTargeted Hazard Assessments in Western Canada, Public Safety Geoscience
Earthquakes are one of the most frightening natural phenomena that occur. They shake our very foundation - the ground beneath our feet. They almost always strike without warning. The shaking, in the form of aftershocks, can continue for days, weeks, months, or even years. The effects of earthquakes can be widespread (a tsunami caused by a large earthquake can damage regions tens of thousands of km's away) and wide-ranging (strong shaking, fires, landslides, liquefaction). Each year, several million earthquakes occur around the world, including about 20,000 that are large enough to be located, and, on average, more than 1300 that are large enough (magnitude (M) greater than 5) to cause some damage. As the world's population continues to expand, losses and deaths from earthquakes are climbing rapidly, particularly in developing countries. In this article we briefly summarise the causes of earthquakes, the history of earthquakes, the effects of earthquakes, how earthquakes are monitored and studied, and what can be done to protect ourselves from, and reduce the impact of, future earthquakes.