Q:

What areas are prone to earthquakes?

A:

Quick Answer

Earthquakes occur most frequently around the edges of tectonic plates, especially where two plates are either colliding or sliding past one another. The most active earthquake zones in the world are in areas around the edges of the Pacific oceanic plate, such as California, Indonesia, Japan and New Zealand.

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Full Answer

The areas where the two plates meet are known as faults, which can be normal, reverse or strike-slip faults depending on how the plates interact. Normal faults occur when two plates are pulling apart from one another and usually result in large, shallow earthquakes that typically only affect the immediate surrounding area. This type of tectonic plate boundary is mostly found deep under the oceans, so these earthquakes have little to no effect on humans.

Reverse faults occur where two plates are colliding with one another, such as in Indonesia where the Eurasian and Indo-Australian plates are colliding. Strike-slip faults occur when two plates are sliding past one another. One of the more famous examples of this type of fault is the San Andreas fault in California, which was created by the movement of the Pacific and North American plates.

Earthquakes can also occur in the middle of tectonic plates, but these are generally much shallower and not nearly as strong as those that occur along fault lines.

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