What affects how the ground shakes in an earthquake?

Magnitude is a measurement of the energy produced by an earthquake and is not a measure of the shaking you feel. What you feel is very complex — hard or gentle, long or short, jerky or rolling — and is not describable with one number. Aspects of the motion are described by the velocity (how fast the ground is moving), acceleration (how quickly the speed of the ground is changing), the frequency (seismic waves vibrate at different frequencies just like sound waves), and the duration (how long the strong shaking lasts). What you feel in an earthquake is controlled by three main factors: magnitude, distance, and local soil conditions.

What are the chances an earthquake could hit your favorite locations? Make a One-Step Earthquake Forecast here.
To see locations of current major earthquakes, go the Hazards Viewer and click on one of the Earth globes on the right hand side.
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