Earthquakes - Are we missing something here?

<p>Coincidences? Okay the planet is not coming apart... and there are a lot of earthquakes every year, we understand those "old/new" statements. However, 8.8, 7.7, 7.2... what's going on? </p>

<p>It seems to me that somebody is underestimating the situation!!!</p>

<p>-January 5, 2010
Salomon Islands
6.9, 6.2 &7.2 magnitude</p>

<p>-January 12, 2010
Haiti
-7.0 magnitude</p>

<p>-January 15, 2010
Venezuela
5.6 magnitude</p>

<p>-February 27, 2010
Chile
8.8 magnitude
Okinawa
7.0 magnitude</p>

<p>March 3, 2010
Southern Taiwan
6.4-magnitude</p>

<p>-March 5, 2010
Sumatra
6.5 magnitude</p>

<p>-March 8, 2010
Turkey
6.0 magnitude</p>

<p>-March 16, 2010
Chile
6.7-magnitude</p>

<p>-March 25, 2010
Philippines
6.1 magnitude</p>

<p>-March 16, 2010
Southern California
4.4 magnitude</p>

<p>-April 5, 2010:<br>
Mexico's Baja California :
7.2 magnitude </p>

<p>-April 7, 2010
Indonesia
7.7-magnitude </p>

<p>-April 11, 2010:
Spain
6.2 magnitude </p>

<p>-April 14, 2010:
China
6.9 magnitude</p>

<p>I have thought about this pattern too, Greenery. And it makes me nervous because I live near Seattle.</p>

<p>I'm starting to not buy the "they happen every year" line. It's not as if 2010 is the first year where there was a new media that reports on earthquakes. Could it really be that the same number of quakes every year happen, but in unpopulated areas? (Are there that many unpopulated areas left?)</p>

<p>Speaking as an "earthquake professional," yes, there are. For example, the ocean--only a third of the world is land. There are earthquakes all the time that occur far underwater and end up having essentially no effect on people. Also, there are areas that are more seismically active, and so people have stayed away from building there... Check out the global seismic hazard map.</p>

<p><a href="http://commandcontrol.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/1-global-seismic-hazard-map1.jpg%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://commandcontrol.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/1-global-seismic-hazard-map1.jpg&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>(Edit: In fact, all of the places that you mentioned above that have been 'hit' recently... and having lived in California, a 4.4 isn't really a 'hit'... are in high-seismic zones. The devastation in poorer and/or more corrupt countries really comes from the lack of building codes and knowledge about how to design structures and ensure that they're built to a certain standard.)</p>

<p>Also, because of Haiti, there's just been a huge media blitz about earthquakes and people are just more aware of them lately. Those of us who've set our phones to buzz whenever there's something over a 7.0 haven't noticed any change in how often our phones buzz, but now that people are more highly aware of seismic activity since Haiti, they notice earthquakes more now. Scanning the list and having watched earthquake patterns for six years now, I don't see anything that surprises me.</p>

<p>If it makes you feel better, this sociological phenomenon happens every time there's a seismic event in a usually-non-seismic area.</p>

<p>Your chances of being hit haven't gone up. There could be a devastating earthquake under your house next week, yes. The thing that this media coverage doesn't really recognize, though, is that you had just as big a chance of your having a devastating earthquake happen underneath your house last week, too.</p>

<p>Don't worry any more than usual! If you're in a seismic area, take all the safety precautions that you ought to take anyhow-- strap your water heater to the wall, know what to do in an earthquake, bolt your bookshelves into walls and don't keep seating areas within falling distance, use museum wax to hold breakables in place-- be aware, but don't be unduly concerned! :)</p>

<p>
[quote]
but now that people are more highly aware of seismic activity since Haiti, they notice earthquakes more now

[/quote]

Yes but I sure noticed the Baja one as well! I ended up exiting the house for that one since it kept going longer and stronger.</p>

<p>Yea, and we're in the tsunami & hurricane zone, here in the middle of the ocean! We actually haven't noticed much more than usual, but do read more about these in the press.</p>

<p>You forgot the one in the Chicago area earlier this year!</p>

<p>


</p>

<p>Uh oh, that’s what the evil bureaucrats always say in every disaster flick--right before the Big One hits! :)</p>

<p>As noted in this USGS news release issued:</p>

<p>
[quote]
Scientists say 2010 is not showing signs of unusually high earthquake activity. Since 1900, an average of 16 magnitude 7 or greater earthquakes — the size that seismologists define as major — have occurred worldwide each year. Some years have had as few as 6, as in 1986 and 1989, while 1943 had 32, with considerable variability from year to year.</p>

<p>With six major earthquakes striking in the first four months of this year, 2010 is well within the normal range. Furthermore, from April 15, 2009, to April 14, 2010, there have been 18 major earthquakes, a number also well within the expected variation.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>USGS</a> Release: Is Recent Earthquake Activity Unusual? Scientists Say No. (4/14/2010 2:55:24 PM)</p>

<p>Federal officials failed to notice the financial meltdown, and the 9/11 plot too. If The Big One comes, they'll scramble to justify their lack of data. There is never any 100% proof, but the frequency of quakes lately could be a signal..time will tell.</p>

<p>Call me a cynic but it has had me wondering as well.....</p>

<p>Hey, I work for a private company as an independent consultant! I'm paid to be not only highly educated on the subject but ALSO completely impartial! Furthermore, I'm a life-member Girl Scout! Would I steer you all wrong? ;)</p>

<p>Besides, what are we going to do about it? It's not like there's a solution just lying around.</p>

<p>


</p>

<p>I hope you earned your Disaster Preparedness badge. ;)</p>

<p>Thanks aibarr for the information posted... </p>

<p>Scansmom: If "Since 1900, an average of 16 magnitude 7 or greater earthquakes have occurred each year" </p>

<p>Already in 2010 we have had five earthquakes exceeding the 7.00 magnitude... (Average of 5 for quarter=20"...so I will not worry while we stay in that range...I will try!</p>

<p>Scansmom: That article posted was released after this thread...maybe they thought our question could cause some panic instead "awareness"!! I want to research previous articles to see if the statistics have not been changed.</p>

<p>CNN said yesterday that California has had more 4.0 earthquakes in the last 3 months than it averages in an entire year. Any thoughts on that, aibarr?</p>

<p>I found the following information:
Frequency of Occurrence of Earthquakes - (Based on observations since 1900)</p>

<p>Magnitude ---- Average earthquakes Annually</p>

<p>8 and higher: ------ 1
7 - 7.9 : --------- 15
6 - 6.9 : --------- 134 </p>

<p>For 2010 the 8 magnitude or higher already happened: 8.8 Chile
For 2010 7-7.9: we have had 5 from estimated 15 earthquakes expected</p>

<p>So maybe we shouldn't worry...but will be aware about this tendency.</p>

<p>It's statistically-based. It's like rolling dice. Some years, there are going to be more earthquakes, some years, there will be fewer. It's tempting to take a few months of data and extrapolate it to a full year, but earthquakes and hurricanes and such don't work on a calendar basis. The only thing that statistics can tell you about earthquakes are what the general trends will be over a longer period of time.</p>

<p>In fact, recent research has showed that "seismic quiescence" is something that happens before a "big one" hits... In other words, those frequent small earthquakes quit happening, and then you end up with one big earthquake. </p>

<p>Now, it doesn't always happen that way, and it's not a definite predictor for anything, and the presence of lots of small earthquakes doesn't mean that there will NOT be a big earthquake any time soon, but there's an observed correlation (not necessarily proven, either) that if these smaller earthquakes continue, that there may actually be a decreased chance of a larger earthquake happening.</p>

<p>4.whatevers happen all the time, though... I can't find anything citing the implications of increased 4.0-range earthquake frequencies, and I'm not seeing anything on CNN or anywhere else saying that there've been more 4.0-range earthquakes. Do you have a link? I'd be interested to track that down. I'll keep looking.</p>

<p>
[quote]
4.whatevers happen all the time, though... I can't find anything citing the implications of increased 4.0-range earthquake frequencies, and I'm not seeing anything on CNN or anywhere else saying that there've been more 4.0-range earthquakes. Do you have a link? I'd be interested to track that down. I'll keep looking.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>I don't have a link, I'm sorry. CNN's meteorologist mentioned it in passing during one of his segments the other day, but there was no story about it or anything of the like. All they gave us was that one tidbit, and it just made me curious. Thanks for the explanation, though.</p>

<p>Well, there's your problem! Having a meteorologist comment on seismology is much like having a podiatrist comment on dentistry. ;)</p>

<p>It <em>could</em> be true, but I'm reasonably certain that something like that would have shown up on my radar, so I would tend towards the notion that maybe the meteorologist misinterpreted a different statistic that he'd heard. I'll consult meteorologists all the time for data on hurricanes, storm surge, and wind speeds, but seismic activity is a completely different herd of cats. Seismologists, geophysicists, and structural/geotechnical engineers are usually the ones who have a need to know about seismology (and even then, not all structural engineers do... I just happened to have gotten my paycheck from the Mid-America Earthquake Center for two years as a grad student, and then I made my living as a forensic engineer in LA for a year and a half, doing seismic retrofit and being active in the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute as a practitioner).</p>