A woodblock print shows a mythic catfish that causes earthquakes, according to Japanese myth. Photo: historyofgeology.fieldofscience.com
Thales of Miletos (6th century BC) believed an agitation of the great sea, on which the earth floats, produced earthquakes.
Gabrielino Indians, Southern California
Great Spirit made a beautiful land that turtles carried on their backs in lakes and rivers. One day the turtles began to argue. Three swam east; the other three swam west. The earth shook and cracked. The turtles could not swim far. So they made up. But once in a while, the turtles argue again. Each time, the earth shakes.
Hindus of India
Eight mighty elephants held up the land. When one of them grew weary, it lowered and shook its head, causing an earthquake.
Kamchatka, Siberia, Russia
A god named Tuli drove an earth-laden sled pulled by dogs. When the dogs stopped to scratch at fleas, the earth shook.
A gigantic frog which carried the world on its back twitched periodically, producing slight quakes.
A catfish lived in mud beneath the earth. It could be restrained only by Kashima, a god who protected the people from earthquakes. So long as Kashima kept a mighty magical rock over the catfish, the earth was still. As he relaxed, the catfish caused earthquakes.