An aftershock is an earthquake that occurs after a previous earthquake (the main shock). An aftershock is in the same region of the main shock but is always of smaller magnitude strength. If an aftershock is larger than the main shock, the aftershock is redesignated as the main shock and the original main shock is redesignated as a foreshock. Aftershocks are smaller earthquakes formed as the crust around the displaced fault plane adjusts to the effects of the main shock.
Distribution of aftershocks
Most aftershocks are located over the full area of fault rupture and either occur along the fault plane itself or along other faults within the volume affected by the strain associated with the main shock. Typically, aftershocks are found up to a distance equal to the rupture length away from the fault plane.The pattern of aftershocks helps confirm the size of area that slipped during the main shock. In the case of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the 2008 Sichuan earthquake the afte