Many early cultures believed that earthquakes were caused by the movement of a giant animal such as a frog, llama or elephant, on whose back the Earth was resting. There are also records of earthquakes in China dating as far back as 1177 BC, and the first seismoscope was invented in China in 132 AD.

But scientists only began to understand the mechanisms that cause earthquakes at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Credit: Austin Elliott
Displaced kerbstones after the 2014 Napa earthquake. Credit: Austin Elliott

Centre for Observation and Modelling of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tectonics