1556 Shaanxi Earthquake (02:01)
Scientists know which regions are prone to earthquakes but are unable to predict when they will occur. In the 1500s, the deadliest earthquake in the world struck. Most deaths in this earthquake were caused by a landslide.
Earthquake Formation (02:46)
Earthquakes are created when tectonic plates shift and rub against each other. When plates shift underwater they create submarine earthquakes and cause tsunamis. Most major earthquakes happen along the Ring of Fire.
Richter Scale (01:58)
Learn how to study an earthquake's power. The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake created destruction and raging fires. The 1960 Valdivia Earthquake is the most powerful earthquake ever recorded.
1988 Armenian Earthquake (02:09)
This quake was extremely deadly but not powerful. Most deaths were from poorly constructed buildings that collapsed. Response from local authorities was slow; the international response was more helpful.
1988 Armenian Earthquake Response (02:24)
The Armenian authorities, though slow to respond, asked for help. The response was racing against the clock; everyone was left homeless and freezing to death. The town of Spitak was reduced to rubble.
1923 Great Kanto Earthquake (03:05)
This earthquake had a large death toll, most from the resulting fires. People trying to escape the destruction were caught in the fires, perishing in high numbers.
1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake (02:50)
A destructive earthquake because buildings were not built to new building codes and collapsed. Fires ravaged Kobe, adding to the death toll.
1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake Effects (02:07)
This quake was the costliest and one of the most destructive, making buildings uninhabitable. Japanese officials were criticized for not giving a warning, and for not accepting help after the disaster.
Comparing Earthquakes (02:28)
The Northridge Earthquake is compared to the Kobe Earthquake; both had structural damage and no warning, but Northridge had a significantly smaller death toll. Japan has increased their level of preparedness, they have seismic monitoring systems and every citizen goes through disaster training.
1999 Izmit Earthquake (03:15)
This earthquake hit an industrial town and caused many buildings to collapse, surprising both the people and the officials that issued the seismic building codes. An oil refinery caught fire, causing evacuations.
1999 Izmit Earthquake Warnings (02:07)
This earthquake fell along the North Anatolian Fault Line, a highly studied line. Seismologists gave warning of an impending earthquake, but they didn't know when. The scientists were ignored and a year later the earthquake hit.
2008 Sichuan Earthquake (03:11)
This earthquake produced complete destruction of some cities. To maintain a positive reputation with the Olympic Games approaching the local response was almost immediate. International response was quick, bringing tons of relief goods.
2008 Sichuan Earthquake Damage (02:59)
The damage from this quake was extreme; it became apparent that many had not followed building codes. Schools collapsed, killing children and angering the public. The prime minister put money into reconstruction to make sure the codes were followed.
2008 Sichuan Earthquake Cause (01:39)
Many scientists believe that this earthquake was caused by the Zipingpu Dam, which was built near the Longmenshan Fault. The pressure from the water held back by the dam may have created the quake.
Earthquake Prediction (02:49)
Forecasting when earthquakes will occur with any accuracy is impossible. Earthquake storm theory, the idea that earthquakes on the same fault line are related, is the closest to prediction.
Earthquake Storm Theory (01:56)
Ross Stein first came up with the theory by studying the San Andreas Fault and the aftershocks. He noticed that when one earthquake occurred along a fault line, another was likely to occur along the same line.
Testing Earthquake Storm Theory (02:20)
Jeffery King tested the theory using the North Anatolian Fault Zone. He compared his findings with past earthquakes and found them to be correct. He predicted the 1999 Izmit Earthquake, but was ignored.
Conclusion: Quakes from Hell: The World's Worst Disasters (01:39)
The science to predict where earthquakes will occur is improving, but the science to predict when has not. The best protection is to make sure that buildings are built to withstand an earthquake.
Credits: Quakes from Hell: The World's Worst Disasters (00:50)
Credits: Quakes from Hell: The World's Worst Disasters
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