The BBC explains that, in addition to a significant human death toll, earthquakes destroy the environment in the surrounding area by causing fires, tsunamis and landslides. While these events have relatively short-term environmental impacts, there are also longer-reaching consequences of an earthquake on the surrounding area.
Pennsylvania State University explains that the deep-penetrating seismic waves of an earthquake can unsettle mountainous regions, leading to catastrophic landslides that may disturb the surrounding ecosystem for a number of years. Scientific American uses the example of the 2011 earthquake in Japan as an event that had a far-reaching environmental impact on people, animals and the surrounding ecosystem. The magazine explains that nuclear reactor damage is a significant environmental issue anytime a major earthquake occurs, and that fallout from the 2011 earthquake resulted in a lack of safe drinking water for humans and animals. Thousands of animals were killed or displaced in the massive tsunami following the earthquake, resulting in a long-lasting, significant change to the area's ecosystem. Additionally, a massive amount of plant life in the area was destroyed or seriously damaged, creating a domino effect on the interconnected species within the area that feed off plant life or on animals that do.