Where can I find information about earthquakes?

Entry last updated: 29/01/21


Earthquakes are a natural phenomenon. They happen because of the movement of tectonic plates on the earth's surface. When a sudden slip between two plates happen, we feel the ground under us begin to shake. Some earthquakes are so deep under the ground that we hardly notice them, while others can cause a lot of damage.

Well known earthquakes

There have been many famous earthquakes over time all over the world.

  • Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii 62CE
  • San Francisco 1906
  • Haiti 2010
  • Japan 2011
  • Nepal 2015
  • Canterbury earthquakes 2010-2011

What are earthquakes?

Earthquakes feel like a huge shake to the land. If we are in a classroom, the desks might move and bang about. Earthquakes can make cracks in walls, tip over food in a grocery store aisle, or even cause a building to fall down.

Weather Wiz Kids

This website has been designed for children to help them learn about weather but it also has some great information about earthquakes.

  • Select the Natural Disasters tab at the top of the page.
  • Select Earthquakes.
Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.


This website has a lot of useful information about earthquakes including an explanation of what earthquakes are.

Tips: A website’s address (URL) can give you a hint about how reliable it is. Look for addresses in the results that include .gov or .edu in the URL. These are quality sites from overseas government or educational organisations.

How do earthquakes work?

There are some excellent sites that have information about how earthquakes work.


DKFindOut! has great illustrations to help us understand what is happening under the earth and on top of it during an earthquake.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, e.g [earthquakes]. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Britannica School

This is one of the EPIC resources. EPIC is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this.

  • Search the keyword 'earthquake'.
  • Select the article called earthquake (geological event) to find basic information and pictures related to earthquakes.
  • Select Article Reading Level 2 to find more in-depth information including a video on seismic waves.
Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Earthquakes in New Zealand

Because Aotearoa New Zealand lies on top of two tectonic plates, earthquakes are common here. You can read about some of these earthquakes at the sites below.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Scroll down and select Earth, Sea and Sky.
  • ChooseNatural Hazards and Disasters.
  • To find general information about earthquakes select Earthquakes.
  • For historic information about Earthquakes in New Zealand choose Historic earthquakes.


Geonet gives us live updates about earthquakes in New Zealand as well as good information about past events.

  • Select the Earthquake tab at the top of the page.
  • Choose Earthquakes to find information about recent earthquakes in New Zealand.
  • Select Historical Events for information about earthquakes that have taken place in New Zealand in the past such as the Kaikōura earthquake.
Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.


There are a number of books and stories that have been written about earthquakes - check out your local public or school library to see what they have there.

Here are some recommended titles:

SCIS no: 1892814

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