The central area of Hokkaido where the earthquake was centered is prone to earthquakes despite not being located on any plate boundary. According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, there are several active seismic zones in the central part of Hokkaido, including the Furano and Ishikari fault zones. Studies have shown that earthquakes occurred in 1910, 1974, 1981, 1982, and 2000 in the region. Among them, the 7.1 Mj 1982 earthquake off the coast of Urakawa was the largest earthquake in the history of the region. The earthquake caused casualties and damage in Tomakomai and Sapporo.
There are many volcanoes located near the earthquake's epicenter. The volcanoes distributed pumicite throughout the area which was later covered with a layer of heavier soil. The volcanic material is theorized to have caused landslides after being inundated during heavy rains due to its slippery nature. The wet pumice and the soil on top of it slid away after the shear forces of the earthquake ruptured the strata, causing the landslides that led to most of the casualties of the earthquake.