Origin of Earthquakes

Sudden movement on faults is responsible for earthquakes. An earthquake is simply the vibrations caused by the blocks of rock on either side of a fault rubbing against each other as they move in opposite directions. The bigger the movement, the bigger the earthquake. Because the mountains are still rising in Colorado, earthquakes will continue to accompany the faulting that enables them to grow.

Because fault movement causes earthquakes, it is important to study the thousands of faults in Colorado to determine whether they have moved in the recent geologic past and whether they are capable of moving again in the near future. Paleoseismic studies help with this understanding.

Earthquake Block Image
Click on image to access the Colorado Earthquake Map Server

Earthquakes generate seismic waves that can be detected by sensitive instruments called seismographs. Records of seismic waves (called seismograms) are used by seismologists to locate and measure the size of earthquakes. Please use this link for more information about Colorado’s Seismometer Locations.