This earthquake occurred near the eastern end of the Rif mountain belt, which is part of the diffuse boundary between the African and Eurasian plates. The epicentral region is the most seismically active area in Morocco. The geologically prominent Nekor fault lies about 30 km to the southeast of the February 24 earthquake. Numerous northeast-southwest trending faults occur in the epicentral region, and the preliminary determination of the earthquake's focal mechanism is consistent with the earthquake having occurred as slip on one of these faults. The February 24, 2004, quake occurred near the epicenter of the May 26, 1994, magnitude 6.0 Al Hoceima earthquake that injured one person and caused significant damage to adobe buildings.
The most deadly Moroccan earthquake in the 20th century was the 1960 magnitude 5.7 Agadir earthquake that killed 12,000 people and injured 25,000. Agadir is in western Morocco, about 750 km southwest of the February 24, 2004, earthquake