Recent earthquakes in Italy and Myanmar highlight the fact that an environmental disaster, like a major quake, can happen at any time. Quakes like those are devastating and often come with no warning. Earthquakes, are a result of the tectonic plates beneath the earth's surface, shifting and rubbing against one another. Like a rubber band that is stretched, when the motion of the plates stops, energy is released and this causes a quake.
Quakes are measured on the Richter scale, 0 being unnoticeable and 10 being catastrophic. In 1906, the San Francisco quake is thought to have been an 8 on the Richter scale. The largest quake ever was in 1960 in Chile at 9.5. The Anchorage Alaska quake in 1964 was a 9. All of these quakes devastated the local areas and experts predict that more quakes of that magnitude will happen. There is currently no reliable science to predict a quake, or to stop one. Those citizens located along fault lines, like the famous San Andreas fault in California, live with the knowledge that at any time, a quake could occur and shake away their homes.