An earthquake with a magnitude greater than 7 on the Richter scale. Major earthquakes are typically restricted to the tectonically active areas of Earth. In the United States, California and Alaska commonly experience major earthquakes, and yet throughout the entire rest of the country, they are so rare that historical ones can be counted on one hand. A designation of a major earthquake tells nothing about the damage it causes. For example, the Hector Mine earthquake in California was a 7.1 on the Richter scale. It was a major earthquake but in a remote area and therefore there were no casualties. On the other hand, the Armenian earthquake was a 6.9 on the Richter scale, just below major earthquake status, and yet killed more than 25,000 people. It is important to understand that there are strong and major earthquakes all over the world, all of the time. Only when they are in populated areas and cause major destruction do we hear about them. The press does not report on all of the earthquakes in remote areas.