I know some planets have storms akin to what we have on Earth although obviously varying in nature.

I was wondering if other planets have earthquakes? Since this comes down to plate tectonics (right?), I guess I am also asking if other planets have plate tectonics.

Obviously, a planet like Uranus or Neptune wouldn't because they are gas, so I am restricting it to terrestrial ones.

I tried to look this up on Wikipedia, but I couldn't think of a word besides non-earthquake or just quake but those didn't turn up any results.

What frequency do different kinds of seismic activity appear throughout the universe?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Well, there are moonquakes: science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2006/… ; That article also suggests that it may happen on other planets but we just don't know. $\endgroup$ – Gimelist Dec 20 '14 at 21:57
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ In theory you don't need tectonics for quakes. Processes such as differential thermal heating/cooling, gravitational effects from moons etc. can cause rocks to fracture. $\endgroup$ – stali Dec 20 '14 at 22:08
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, perhaps a better question is with what frequency are different kinds of seismic activity throughout the universe? $\endgroup$ – Stan Shunpike Dec 21 '14 at 1:32
  • $\begingroup$ As you know it is very difficult to study quakes on other planets in the solar system (and impossible for planets orbiting other stars). If I were to make an educated guess then I would rank differential loading followed by volcanism followed by impacts. $\endgroup$ – stali Dec 21 '14 at 1:42
  • $\begingroup$ There will be more data on Marsquakes soon, given that the Insight-lander lands successfully in about two weeks and the seismometer on board survives atmospheric re-entry and landing. $\endgroup$ – AtmosphericPrisonEscape Nov 11 '18 at 19:23

For terminology, "Earth"quakes might be replaced with "seismic activity" since earthquakes are by definition restricted to the Earth.

Technically speaking the other terrestrial planets in our solar system are not active in terms of plate tectonics. Mercury undergoes rapid heating/cooling depending on its rotation and exposure to the Sun which must lead to some type of seismic activity, though likely very small magnitude. I don't know of any seismic anomalies recorded on Venus or Mars but certainly there must be some type of activity from time to time due to changes in magma. Magma - related quakes, though, are typically not as strong as quakes from the dynamics of plate tectonics. For instance, Hawaii has seismic activity due to the volcanos, which produce maximum seismic activity that is orders of magnitude less than what two plates (e.g. a fault line) rubbing against eachother produce. Though, the magmatic processes lead to a higher quake frequency.

I would wager that the moon of Jupiter, Io, and Earth have the strongest seismic activity in our solar system.

  • $\begingroup$ Good point about the terminology. And yeah, I have watched videos of the gravitational differences between an Earth volcano and those on Io. It's like slow motion because Io is so much less massive. $\endgroup$ – Stan Shunpike Dec 20 '14 at 19:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I don't agree that an earthquake is by definition a quake on the Earth; the 'e' in earthquake is lower case and can be interpreted as earth as a synonym for ground or soil. $\endgroup$ – Jack Aidley Mar 2 '17 at 19:36

According to this source the Viking 2 lander had a seismometer and it measured a marsquake


The Moon has moonquakes. Seismometers where placed on the Moon by the Apollo 12, 14, 15 & 16 mission. Quakes were recorded until 1977 when the seismometers were turned off.


From our studies completed by spacecraft, that Mercury is geologically dead, because of the absence of obvious and recent geological activity on its surface, so no earthquakes. However, the jury is still out on whether Venus is geologically active. There is widespread past vulcanism across its surface, and indeed there is a lot of evidence to suggest the surface of Venus is, geologically, quite young, but again, at the moment we don't know if the planet is active. Mars is unlikely to be still active, and there is certainly no trace of plate tectonics, which is the biggest factor in volcanoes and earthquakes on the Earth. However, we will soon know if there are Marsquakes: NASA's InSight spacecraft has been designed to listen for them with seismometers pushed into the ground: it arrives at Mars in November this year. We actually don't know much about Mars' interior: soon, Insight will help us to see what's inside the planet.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Can you add references, please? If you answer a 4 year old question we expect really new information. $\endgroup$ – Jan Doggen Nov 9 '18 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ This article suggests that your claim isn't true. Mercury might not have plate tectonics, but it appears to be shifting a little, perhaps due to cooling of it's core or mantle. space.com/34199-earthquakes-rock-mercury-today.html $\endgroup$ – userLTK Feb 16 at 5:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.