Take 2: Epicenter vs. Hypocenter (Yep, there is a difference)

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  • Closed captioning for Epicenter-Hypocenter
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What is the difference between epicenter and hypocenter? What about the rupture?

News reports commonly refer to an earthquake’s epicenter. The word is a concept coined by Robert Mallet to help people visualize an earthquake’s location. The epicenter is the map location on Earth’s surface, above where earthquake began. An earthquake actually begins inside the earth at the hypocenter. The hypocenter ranges from several, to hundreds of kilometers below the epicenter, in Earth’s outer brittle layers.

CLOSED CAPTIONING: .srt file is included with the download. Use an appropriate media player to utilize captioning.


  • The epicenter is a map location on the surface of the earth
  • The hypocenter is the point deep below the surface where the earthquake began
  • The larger the earthquake the bigger the rupture area

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Knowing precisely where an earthquake occurred is an important piece of scientific information. It can help seismologists identify and map seismic hazards. It is also a fundamental piece of information necessary for facilitating studies of Earth's internal structures. This fact sheet provides an overview of the S-P process to locate an earthquake.

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