Disaster Fact Checks

FACT CHECK: Earthquakes are not caused by radio waves


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FACT CHECK: Earthquakes are not caused by radio waves
Earthquakes occur when tectonic plates collide or move past each other. The resulting stress that builds up can cause massive vibrations that result in earthquakes.

The claim: Radio waves can cause vibrations that are strong enough to cause earthquakes.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The Facebook post containing the claim has 13,000 views, 1,700 reactions, and 4,900 comments as of writing. 

Earthquakes explained: According to an explainer released by the National Geographic, scientifically, earthquakes occur at fault zones, where giant slabs of rock known as tectonic plates collide or move past each other. Earthquakes are caused by the stress that builds up when moving tectonic plates get stuck at the edges due to friction. A buildup of stress between plates can cause massive vibrations that cause earthquakes. 

Recently, one of the most devastating earthquakes to hit in the past 20 years ravaged the southeast of Turkey, near the Syrian border. Turkey, officially the Republic of Türkiye, is located along the intersection of four tectonic plates – the Anatolian Plate, Eurasian Plate, Arabian Plate, and African Plate – making it an earthquake-prone country. Over the years, the Arabian Plate has been making its way into the Eurasian Plate, which has caused many earthquakes in the area.

According to Michael Steckler of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the earthquake that rocked Turkey on February 6 was caused by the Arabian Plate sliding past the Anatolian plate in a phenomenon known as a “strike-slip” earthquake. 

No scientific studies have been made that state that radio waves, emitted at any frequency, can cause vibrations strong enough to cause earthquakes. – Katarina Ruflo/Rappler.com

Katarina Ruflo is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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