The number of magnitude 7.0 to 8.9 worldwide earthquakes appear to be on track, or slightly increased from historical averages.
Magnitude 4.9 or less was not analyzed partly because they generally cause little or no damage. One could make a logical argument that earthquake detection technologies of the early 1900’s were not what they were decades later, and certainly not as advanced as today, therefore skewing the numbers. That is a valid argument. This would be particularly true when it comes to detecting and recording relatively small earthquakes which require higher sensitivity through more advanced technology. This is partly why I chose not to compare earthquakes below magnitude 5.0. Earthquakes above this level were fairly easy to detect, even a century ago.
The data used in this analysis has been collected from the USGS (United States Geological Survey) going back to to the year 1900. I have averaged the number of earthquakes since 1900 in each magnitude range, and have also averaged the same data over the last 10 years. I then compared this data with the current earthquake statistics so far in 2010.
Earthquakes of magnitude 5 – 5.9 have increased by 39 percent (139% of normal) compared with same range of earthquakes over the last 10 years.
Earthquakes of magnitude 5 – 5.9 have increased by 63 percent (163% of normal) compared with same range of earthquakes since the year 1900.
Earthquakes of magnitude 6 – 6.9 have increased by 30 percent (130% of normal) compared with same range of earthquakes over the last 10 years.
Earthquakes of magnitude 6 – 6.9 have increased by 40 percent (140% of normal) compared with same range of earthquakes since the year 1900.
Earth changes are apparently at work as the earth’s major tectonic plates move, shift, slip and grind against each other while floating on top of ‘the mantle’ of semi-fluid magma and hot rock that comprises most of the earth’s volume.
The USGS website acknowledges that earthquakes above magnitude 7 have remained fairly constant. They also site that the number of seismogram stations has increased significantly, along with faster communications.
This is true and logical, however in their words, “This increase in the number of stations and the more timely receipt of data has allowed us and other seismological centers to locate earthquakes more rapidly and to locate many small earthquakes which were undetected in earlier years.”, they confirm that this has allowed detection of smaller earthquakes, and have allowed the overall detection of earthquakes to be faster. Nowhere have they addressed the range of earthquakes between magnitude 5.0 and 6.9 as to why they have apparently increased in frequency of late. I find that to be interesting.
Maybe there is a reasonable explanation for the increase. The numbers have been higher the past few years in general and the average numbers in this analysis cover a wider span of time than just a few years (10 years and 110 years), or maybe this is just a statistical anomaly which will average out over time (perhaps earthquakes around the globe will drastically decrease throughout the rest of this year to be more in line with statistical averages – or gradually decrease over a longer period of time). Or maybe the apparent increase has something to do with the many predictions out there as we head towards the winter solstice of 21-Dec-2012, the end of the Mayan calendar… ? Time will tell…
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