Prof. Jascha Polet explains what made the earthquake in Morocco devastating (National Geographic)

Jascha Polet, professor emerita of geological sciences, explains the combination of factors that made the 6.8-magnitude earthquake so lethal — timing (11:11 p.m. local time, when most were inside and asleep), low expectation of such an event (few severe earthquakes in living memory) and location (near the High Atlas Mountains in the south, where large seismic activity is uncommon). According to the U.S. Geological Survey, this shallow, powerful quake caused “severe shaking” around theepicenter and “strong” and “very strong” shaking in Marrakech.

This article was originally published on National Geographic on Sept. 11, 2023.