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Difference Between Epicenter and Hypocenter

Earthquake is a phenomenon that causes seismic waves and can be natural or caused by humans. At the surface of the Earth, it can be recognized when there is a sudden shaking, displacing or disruption of the ground.


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Epicenter vs Hypocenter

Epicenter appears on or above the surface of the Earth, whereas Hypocenter appears beneath the surface of Earth. The waves emitted from Epicentre is both body and surface waves while waves emitted from Hypocenter is a body wave only.

Epicenter vs Hypocenter

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It is the focal point that is examined and researched by seismologists to comprehend the aftereffect and transmission of earthquakes. It is often suggested that the most damages are caused at the epicentre.

Hypocenter can be tens to thousands of km deep underneath the surface. As the altitude of the hypocenter increases, the rocks become flaky and ductile.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonEpicenterHypocenter
DefinitionEpicentre is the point on the surface of the earth where an explosion or earthquake appears.The hypocenter is the point of origin or sub-level of an explosion.
PositionIt appears on or above Earth.It appears on the sub-level or underground of Earth.
WavesIt causes both body and surface waves.It causes only body waves.
DimensionIt measures the 2-D (D stands for dimensional) effect on how there is a spread of the waves. It measures the 3-D effect on how there is a spread of the waves.
Other NamesAlso known as Focal Point or Epicentrum.Also known by the name Focus or Ground Zero.

What is Epicenter?

Epicentre is often referred to as the ‘centre of activity of the earthquake. The focal depth of an earthquake appearing at the crust can range from 2 to 20 km.

There are two divisions of waves that are emitted by the epicentre of an earthquake, i.e. body waves and surface waves. Body waves usually get detected from the epicentre.

The waves get their names because S-waves come after the p-waves. The distance of the epicentre is also used to calculate the seismic magnitude as developed by Richter and Gutenberg.


What is Hypocenter?

A hypocenter is a cradle or birthplace where an earthquake occurs. Also known as focus or ground zero as the nuclear explosion (earthquake) takes place just beneath the ground.

Hypocenters of earthquakes can be ten to hundred or even spread across thousands of kilometres below the surface of the earth. More the depth will be of the hypocenter earthquake, it will increase the rocks around to become more soft and ductile, i.e. easily movable. 

Because of the impact of an earthquake on the same area over a period of years, the rocks and stones underground will become so tender that if there is any other earthquake at the same hypocenter, then it will not be much dangerous. The power and vigour of an earthquake depend on the pressure build on the poignant and harshness of rock before they break.


Main Differences Between Epicenter and Hypocenter

  1. Epicentre is the point on the surface of the earth where an explosion or earthquake appears. The hypocenter is the point of origin or sub-level of an explosion.
  2. The epicentre of an earthquake is usually on or above the surface of Earth. The Hypocentre of an earthquake is always on the sub-level or underground in the Earth.
Difference Between Epicenter and Hypocenter

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