Earthquakes are created from the sudden release of energy in the earth’s crust.  This energy occurs as the plates shift against one another along fault lines.  Earthquakes are also referred to as quakes or tremors.  The seismicity and seismic activity refer to the frequency, type and size of an earthquake experienced over a period of time.

The largest earthquakes recorded have been around 9.0 or slightly higher on the Richter scale.  Technically, there is no limit to the potential magnitude.  The most recent earthquake of that magnitude occurred in Japan in 2011.

The largest earthquake based on death toll belongs to the Tangshan earthquake of 1976 in China killing up to 655,000 people.  The largest earthquake based on magnitude belongs to the 1960 Chilean earthquake in 1960, which reached 9.5.