What is the connection between earthquakes and plate tectonics?
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Only the lithosphere has the strength and brittle behavior to fracture in an earthquake. And as lithospheric plate boundaries push, pull apart, or grind against each other, earthquakes occur. In 1969, scientists published the locations of all earthquakes that occurred from 1961 to 1967. They discovered most earthquakes (and volcanoes, too, they later learned) occurred in narrow belts around the world. Thus, it is now known that areas with frequent earthquakes and volcanoes help define the plate boundaries.