Main Causes of Earthquakes

Earthquakes can cause havoc, but do you know the main causes of earthquakes? Here are 4 causes of earthquakes to be prepared for.

There are four causes for earthquakes. Volcanic movements, plate shifts, folding & faulting, and even humans can cause earthquakes.


Let’s talk about volcanic activities. A volcano can explode when the gases within it or the molten lava produce massive pressure beneath the ground. This can happen long before the volcano has technically erupted. A volcanic eruption is just the ejection of hot debris out of the volcano, they can be large explosions or small activities.

The types of earthquakes brought on from a volcano occur from the internal explosions (which may be an eruption as well). However, volcanic caused earthquakes are seldom violent or strong in comparison to the other causes.

Folds and Faults in the Earth

Faults are areas of the Earth where the rocks are fractured and displaced. These rocks shift every now and again and will can cause earthquakes if they move suddenly. In what’s known as an elastic strain, where the displaced rocks attempt to return to their original shape. This can be dangerous when tectonic plates are involved. It may not sound serious, but many of the world’s most destructive earthquakes occurred because of faults.

Plate Shifts

Plate tectonics dictates that the Earth’s surface is covered of constantly moving plates of rock, dirt and debris.

What we know is that all earthquakes take place at the edge of these plates, which explains the common geographical theme in volcanic and earthquake activities (i.e. earthquake belts). When the plates move about, monumental amounts of pressure are created, as each plate carries a huge amount of force. Collisions and friction between various plates often result in earthquakes. And of course, plates can slide underneath each other or drift apart. Plate shifts often cause fault lines (see above), which are also responsible for some pretty destructive earthquakes.

The most destructive earthquakes are caused by shifts in the Earth’s plates.

Human Causes

These are rare, but humans have caused artificial earthquakes before. Underground bomb tests are known to send shocks throughout the ground, which are similar to smaller volcanic earthquakes.

When something goes awry at a gas plant, or when a similar building explodes, the resulting force can actually cause earthquakes. Additionally, the use of dynamite in mining and construction has been known to cause small tremors.

Dams and other large, man-made water storage centers can also cause earthquakes due to the force pushing on the rocks beneath the water.

Alternatively, putting water underneath the surface of the ground can cause earthquakes. Basically any activity that manipulates the way rocks are situated can cause varying magnitudes of quakes.

It is worth noting that human made earthquakes are rarely violent or excruciatingly destructive