The Differences Between Earthquakes Vs Volcanoes

Last Updated on March 19, 2022 by QCity Editorial Stuff

There are many differences between earthquakes and volcanoes. The first major difference is that an earthquake happens when two tectonic plates collide, whereas a volcano’s eruption occurs when molten rock, ash, and hot gases escape from a crack in the earth’s surface. Earthquakes can cause buildings to collapse or be damaged; however, this is not the case with volcanoes as they often happen at sea level and rarely result in damage to structures on the land. Volcanic eruptions also emit much more heat than earthquakes which means that volcanic eruptions can kill humans close by due to intense heat waves.

Earthquakes and volcanoes are two of the most commonly occurring natural disasters. Though they may seem similar, earthquakes and volcanoes are quite different. This article will explore the differences between earthquakes and volcanoes, as well as the dangers each pose to people and property. By understanding the differences between these two natural disasters, people can be better prepared in the event of an emergency.

Comparison between  Earthquakes and Volcanoes

Parameters of Comparison  EarthquakesVolcanoes
CausedEarthquakes are caused when tectonic plates collide with one anotherVolcanoes are caused by the melting of rock under the earth’s surface
LavaEarthquakes can be felt for hundreds of miles away from their epicenter Volcanoes erupt, spewing lava and ash into the air 
GroundThe ground shakes during an earthquake because it releases energy in waves that travel through solid earth or rocks The ground does not shake during a volcano eruption
DestructiveMore destructiveLess destructive

What are Earthquakes?

An earthquake is a geological event that occurs when two blocks of the Earth’s lithosphere (the outer solid layer of the planet) suddenly slip past one another. This movement creates seismic waves, which can cause devastating damage to property and human life. Earthquakes are also capable of triggering landslides, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. While they can’t be predicted with absolute certainty, scientists have developed various methods for estimating their likelihood and severity. In this article, we’ll explore the nature of earthquakes and look at some ways to reduce their potential impact.

Earthquakes are sudden shaking of the Earth’s surface. They can be caused by volcanic eruptions, earthquakes on other planets, or landslides in mountains. The severity of an earthquake is measured with a magnitude scale. The higher the magnitude, the more powerful and potentially destructive it will be to human life and property. Earthquakes around 5-6 magnitude are generally not felt unless you live close to an active volcano or fault line. 

Earthquake tremors occur all over the world every day but most people never experience one because they happen so deep underground that there is no way for them to reach our surface without being amplified many times over first by seismic waves traveling through rock layers near the surface then again when they enter into buildings and other structures.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes

What are Volcanoes?

Volcanoes are geological structures that are formed when hot molten rock, called magma, erupts onto the earth’s surface. The word “volcano” is derived from Vulcano, a volcanic island in the Aeolian Islands off the western coast of Italy. Volcanoes vary greatly depending on what type they are and where they’re located. There are three types of volcanoes: shield volcanoes, cinder cones, and composite volcanoes. Shield volcanos have gentle slopes made up of fluid lava flows that cool to form thick layers or shields around their bases. Cinder cones typically build up in clusters or lines along fissures in the ground caused by tectonic activity during an eruption. Composite volcanos can be found near subduction zones in the Pacific Ring of Fire area. They are steep, symmetrical mountains with a large summit caldera and frequent eruptions.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes

10 Differences Between Earthquakes and Volcanoes

1. Earthquakes are caused by the movement of tectonic plates, while volcanoes are created when molten rock from a magma chamber is pushed up through the earth’s crust.

2. Volcanoes can cause earthquakes, but not vice versa.

3. The ground around an earthquake will shake in a circular pattern with waves radiating out from it, while volcanoes have more of a vertical motion.

4. Volcanic eruptions create ash clouds that rise high into the atmosphere and form lava flows on land.

5. When earthquakes happen near coastlines or where there is water nearby they can trigger tsunamis.

6. Earthquakes last for minutes to hours, while volcanic eruptions may go on for days to weeks at a time.

7. Earthquakes typically last only a few seconds while volcanic eruptions can last for days. 

8. The energy released from an earthquake is about one-tenth of what it would be if you were to drop a bowling ball off the Empire State Building.

9. You can tell if an earthquake has occurred because you will feel shaking and hear rumbling noises, whereas with a volcano you will see smoke coming out of its top. 

10. Earthquakes cause buildings to shake but usually don’t destroy them; however, volcanic eruptions often collapse buildings around them.

Interesting Statistics or Facts of Earthquakes

1. The word earthquake comes from the Greek word “seismos” which means to shake.

2. Earthquakes happen mostly in geologically active areas like California, Nevada, and Alaska.

3. There are about 1 million earthquakes each year.

4. About 10% of all earthquakes are large enough to be felt by people.

5. Earthquakes can last anywhere from a few seconds to up to 3 minutes long.

6. A magnitude 5 earthquake is considered moderate while a magnitude 6 is strong.

Interesting Statistics or Facts of Volcanoes

1. Volcanoes can be found on every continent except for Antarctica.

2. There are about 1,500 active volcanoes in the world.

3. The tallest mountain on Earth is Mount Everest and it’s a volcano.

4. As of 2017, there have been 23 eruptions this year.

5. On average, there is one eruption per year somewhere in the world.

6. In 1980, Mt St Helens erupted and killed 57 people by pyroclastic flow (a fast-moving current of hot gas and rock).


In summary, earthquakes and volcanoes are both geological events that can have devastating effects on the environment. Earthquakes happen when tectonic plates move around or rub against each other while a volcano is an opening in the earth’s surface where molten rock from below comes up to form magma. Volcanic eruptions release more ash into the air than an earthquake but they do not cause as much damage due to their location near water sources. When it all boils down, you should know which event will be worse for your area before anything happens so there’s time to prepare! Thanks for reading this blog post about how different types of natural disasters work – we hope it helped clear things up a bit! If you need any help preparing for an emergency, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.


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