Epicenter vs Hypocenter: Difference and Comparison

Earthquake 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.

Key Takeaways

  1. The epicenter is the point on the Earth’s surface directly above the point of origin of an earthquake, while the hypocenter is the point within the Earth’s crust where the earthquake originates.
  2. The epicenter is where the earthquake is most strongly felt and where most damage occurs, while the hypocenter is deeper underground and can be more difficult to pinpoint.
  3. The distance between the epicenter and the hypocenter can provide information about the size and intensity of the earthquake, with larger distances indicating a more severe earthquake.

Epicentre vs Hypocenter

Epicentre appears on or above the surface of the Earth, whereas Hypocenter appears beneath the surface of the Earth. The waves emitted from Epicentre are both body and surface waves, while those emitted from Hypocenter are only body waves.

Epicenter vs Hypocenter

It is the focal point 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.


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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonEpicentreHypocenter
DefinitionEpicentre is the earth’s surface point 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 the spread of the waves.
Other NamesAlso known as Focal Point or Epicentrum.The name Focus or Ground Zero also knows her.

What is Epicenter?

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

Two divisions of waves are emitted by the epicentre of an earthquake, i.e. body waves and surface waves. Body waves 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, the nuclear explosion (earthquake) occurs just beneath the ground.

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

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


Main Differences Between Epicenter and Hypocenter

  1. Epicentre is the earth’s surface point where an explosion or earthquake appears. The hypocenter is the point of origin or sub-level of a blast.
  2. The epicentre of an earthquake is on or above the surface of the Earth. The Hypocentre of an earthquake is always on the sub-level or underground in the Earth.
Difference Between Epicenter and Hypocenter
  1. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/George_Daglish/publication/268447910_An_Algorithm_for_Concurrent_Location_of_Earthquake_Epi-and_Hypocentres_Using_P-Arrivals_in_an_Interpolative_Tabular_Scan/links/546bb8380cf20dedafd53744.pdf
  2. https://academic.oup.com/gji/article-abstract/209/1/453/2931730

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