Morocco was hit by a severe earthquake that claimed about 3,000 lives and left over 5,000 people injured.
Historic districts of Marrakech were severely damaged, and several mountain communities around the epicenter were nearly completely obliterated.
The moment magnitude scale, which measures the energy produced and the distance the ground moves along a fault.
For earthquakes greater than magnitude 5, the more widely used Richter scale is less reliable than the moment scale.
A magnitude 6 earthquake is roughly comparable to 60,000 tons of TNT, a magnitude 7 is equivalent to 1,000,000 tons of TNT.
A magnitude 8 is equivalent to 6,000,000 tons of TNT. All of the largest earthquakes ever recorded (magnitude 8) were devastating.
While earthquakes of this size are unusual in North Africa, they are common in other parts of the world, including several parts of the United States, especially Alaska.
24/7 Tempo looked into the United States Geological Survey's seismic mapping tool to determine the 12 most recent earthquakes of magnitude 8 or higher to hit North America.
Only quakes that occurred after 1900, when it became common practice to keep instrumental records of earthquakes, are considered here.
The "Ring of Fire" is a horseshoe-shaped zone bordering the Pacific Ocean where the Pacific tectonic plate is being subverted.