There is no doubt that earthquakes are among the worst natural disasters. It brings along devastation, which is heart-wrenching. As earthquakes occur deep down under the earth’s surface, they are unpredictable. The movement of the tectonic plates causes earthquakes. Earthquakes can vary in size. Weak earthquakes are something we cannot feel. However, violent earthquakes can be damaging enough to destroy a huge land area.
The tremors of the violent ones can be felt from quite a distance away, even from other cities. Volcanic activities can also cause earthquakes. The earthquake epicenters generally occur around the tectonic plate boundaries, especially the Pacific Ring of Fire region, and not every country falls in that region. Below is a list of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world.
China happens to be the most earthquake-prone country on the planet. Between 1900 and 2016, the country has been a witness 157 earthquakes. This is the highest number of countries experienced by any country to date. Most of the earthquakes took place in China’s southwest region, which is highly mountainous.
The provinces in the region are Xinjiang, Qinghai, Yunnan, Gansu, and Sichuan. Luckily, these provinces are the least populated ones. The rough terrain, and the harsh climate, are not suitable enough to support many people. Due to the mountainous topography, coupled with poor transportation in the southwest region, rescue and recovery have been an arduous task.
Between 1900 and 2016, Indonesia has experienced 113 earthquakes. That ranks it second in the list of the most earthquake-prone countries globally. Indonesia is geographically along the Ring of Fire and thus has been torn by earthquakes time and again. As mentioned above, the countries that are along the Ring of Fire are the most earthquake-prone zones. The shoe-shaped area spans across an area of 40,000 sq. km. The movement of the tectonic plates in this region has led to several earthquakes affecting the country over more than 100 years.
Unfortunately, Iran, the country between Afghanistan and Iraq in the Middle East, is an area that experiences high seismic activity. From 1900 to 2016, Iran has been a witness to 106 earthquakes. Iran lies in the region where the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. Owing to the Arabian plate’s movement beneath the Iranian plate’s mantle, a part of the Eurasian plate led to the development of the Zagros Mountains.
This is one of the youngest mountain ranges in the world. As Iran is in the collision zone of the Arabian and the Eurasian plates, earthquakes are pretty common. The seismic zone in Iran covers 1600 kilometers in length and 400 kilometers in breadth. Due to several fracture zones in the country, Iran is prone to devastating earthquakes.
Turkey is another country in one of the most seismically active regions globally. The Arabic plates and the Eurasian plates collide here. The Arabian plate is slowly moving towards the Eurasian plate, which is famous for its stable nature. Turkey forms the boundary, which impacts the Arabian and the Eurasian plate. And thus it sees a lot of earthquakes too.
Now, what’s causing the movement of the Arabian plate? The mid-sea ridges of the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea are experiencing the formation and spread of new crust. This spreading is pushing the Arabian plate towards the north. Two faults generate from the pressure from the Arabian plate in Turkey. The cities that are along these faults are prone to earthquakes the most.
Japan ranks fifth in this list. The country is extremely prone to earthquakes because it is near the Ring of Fire. Japan is on the meeting place of four different plates, namely the Pacific plate, the Eurasian plate, the Philippine plate, and the North American plate.
The oceanic and continental plates are always moving and colliding in and around the country. The continuous movement and subduction of the Pacific Plate and the Philippine plate lead to the country experiencing massive earthquakes.
The other countries on the list prone to earthquakes are Peru, the United States of America, and Italy. Afghanistan, Mexico, Greece, and India also have a history of massive earthquakes. These tremors scare the citizens and alter their lives by causing damage and destruction to their property, home, and livelihood. We can only hope that the future has fewer such destructions.