Earthquake Machine

This is any device that is designed to cause some sort of seismic event. Usually, an earthquake.

Almost every Mad Scientist has at least one of these in his blueprint library, sometimes even two. Sometimes simply called the Earthquake Machine, or the Quicksand Generator, Liquefaction Array, or even Ruin Device. If it does the two things that all earthquake machines have in common, it will: 1) cause earthquakes as its primary function, 2) probably be a machine, although there are a few examples of this trope involving living creatures instead of machinery.

A modernized, although not necessarily more realistic take will probably depict such a machine as a Kill Sat or something along these lines. This is derived from conspiracy theories concerning HAARP, some of which accuse the project of producing earthquakes for whichever nefarious purpose the NWO might have for them at the moment.

Occasionally overlaps with This Is a Drill. While a Colony Drop might cause an earthquake, and might very well involve a machine, the earthquake is simply a by-product of, well, a dropping colony. Compare Weather-Control Machine, which can be used to create similar chaos in the atmosphere instead of on the ground.

The traditional depiction is verging on Forgotten Trope; the jury is out whether the reimagined version makes it a Cyclic Trope.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Lupin III
  • One of the Sennins in Soul Hunter has this as her Paopei. Although it had great destruction potential, her ally rightly points out that it's not a weapon of precision and hitting a single, nimble human-sized target is a tall order, even for a person of her skills.
  • Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040 has one emplyoed in its backstory as GENOM tried to keep runaway boomer technology are getting loose, deciding to employ the device to bury the lab, and causing the city to be rebuilt. However, this didn't destroy the technology as it later got loose.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • The MacGuffin for the Parody Fic Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space is a stolen Tesla Scalar Interferometer, eventually used in an attempt to erupt every volcano in Antarctica, flooding the world's cities.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Deep Earth Seismic Trigger Initiative, or DESTINI, superweapon from The Core.
  • In Ocean's Thirteen, the crew uses a tunnel drill to simulate an earthquake hitting Las Vegas (specifically the Bank casino) in order to get everyone out of the building (to prevent people from losing the money they just won). However, the building continues to shake even after the drill stops working. In a deleted scene, Roman Nagel suggests to Livingston Dell the possibility of the fake earthquake causing a real one.
  • In Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, Casey Ryback has to deal with the bad guys who have got their hands on the controls for just such a Kill Sat.
  • In Conspiracy Theory, the conspiracy theorist protagonist stumbles upon a conspiracy to kill the American president through an artificially induced earthquake. The machine is not described, but it's apparently fired from aboard a space shuttle.
  • In The Big Bus, the villain wants to stop the eponymous transit vehicle from being able to make a non-stop trip from New York to Denver, so when it leaves the road and ends up on a cliff, his brother wants to use the earthquake machine to knock the bus over the cliff. When he aims the earthquake at his brother's location, in his iron lung Hilarity Ensues.

  • In Blue Moon Rising, one of the three Infinity Plus One Swords, Rockbreaker, was one of these.
  • In Macdonald Hall 's The War With Mr. Wizzle, Elmer conveniently has a minor earthquake machine built, which the guys sneak into Wizzle's home and then convince him the home is built on a minor faultline.
  • The Russian children's novel Journey To The Morning Star has this as a Superweapon Surprise by the peaceful Etherians, who normally use ultrasonic waves to stop planetquakes. It takes a human to point out that they could just as easily cause a localized planetquake, making it a devastating weapon against the warlike Sinots (although, only when they're actually on the ground). They use it a total of one time before the Sinot population rises up against their oppressors and offers peace to the Etherians.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Doctor Who story "The Enemy of the World", the eponymous dictator Salamander's evil scheme involves causing earthquakes in territories that oppose him.
  • This causes the Undertaking in Arrow. Specifically, the first season's bad guy uses one or two, actually to destroy a particularly crime-ridden section of the city.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Space 1889 an earthquake machine or a volcano machine are possible inventions in the main book.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy XIII Vanille's Limit Break counts as this, as a heroic example. Alexander also uses this as a special ability, via Ground Pound.
  • In No More Heroes, this is Letz Shake's weapon of choice.
  • PC mecha-sim game Starsiege had these in one mission on Mars. Known as 'Hammertanks' or 'Thumpers,' these were modified drilling platforms designed to shake HERCs right off their feet. Seeing as how HERCs are apparently destroyed the moment they fall over, these tanks were extremely useful in their single appearance.
  • In Assassin's Creed: Rogue, one appears in the form of a piece of Eden wich causes the Lisbon earthquake of 1755.
  • In Battlezone (1998), the NSDF Grizzly Hover Tank and its CCA counterpart carry the 'Thumper', a special weapon that channels biometal ammo directly into the ground to create a massive earthquake wave that will send enemies flying helplessly into the air.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Rumble in Transformers: Generation 1 is able to use his fist as piledrivers and create small earthquakes with them.
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series: Experiment 513 (named Richter) is a living example. He is designed to create earthquakes by slamming his tail at the ground.
  • In an episode of Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote makes the Road Runner eat the earthquake pills. But, of course, he forgot to Read the Fine Print on the pill bottle.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987): The Technodrome has one built-in.
  • Dr. Wily used one in the Mega Man cartoon.
  • The Superman cartoon Electric Earthquake has one — created by a Native-American Mad Scientist who wants to reclaim Manhattan for his people, believing it was taken by fraud.
  • Armodrillo from Ben 10: Ultimate Alien is a robotic-like creature known as a Talpaedan who can use his drill arms to create small earthquakes or quickly create tunnels which can also generate vibrations.
  • Seismo from Mixels is a living one, with giant feet that shake the earth when he stomps them. Unfortunately for those around him, he gets ultra-nervous very easy and has the tendency to tap his feet when he does...
  • In the pilot episode of Goof Troop, Pete plants one of those old jiggling exercise machines to the foundation of the house next door and creates mini-quakes to scare away potential buyers so he can use the land to create his own backyard paradise.

    Real Life 
  • Nikola Tesla claimed to have built one, but when it was tested on MythBusters it failed to create an earthquake, although it was able to sustain some significant vibrations.
  • Hydrogen Bombs do this, particularly when someone buries them. Though one air-detonated bomb, the Tsar Bomba, explosion was so big that it could be FELT anywhere and everywhere. Strangely though despite the wide swath of earth that is shook by an underground blast, there is little damage that is earthquake-related.