The epicenter or epicentre (pronounced /ˈɛpɪsɛntər/) is the point on the Earth's surface that is directly above the hypocenter or focus, the point where an earthquake or underground explosion originates. The word derives from the New Latin noun epicentrum, the latinisation of the ancient Greek adjective ἐπίκεντρος (epikentros), "occupying a cardinal point, situated on a centre", from ἐπί (epi) "on, upon, at" and κέντρον (kentron) "centre".
In the case of earthquakes, the epicenter is directly above the point where the fault begins to rupture, and in most cases, it is the area of greatest damage. However, in larger events, the length of the fault rupture is much longer, and damage can be spread across the rupture zone. For example, in the magnitude 7.9, 2002 Denali earthquake in Alaska, the epicenter was at the western end of the rupture, but the greatest damage occurred about 330 km away at the eastern end of the rupture zone.