Temblors in 2010: Record Quakin’ and Shakin’

Holly Deyo

Yes, it’s true, more earthquakes than usual struck in 2010. Because many events clustered together during the first seven months, it furthered magnified the data. It could have been ho-hum – maybe – if they petered out, but they didn’t. Instead they continued to peg the high side. 
Something unique occurred July 23rd. Three massive earthquakes – 7.3, 7.6 and 7.4 – struck the Philippines in rapid succession, like seismic gunfire. Since then thousands of aftershocks have hit the same area.

Other quakes shook areas with rare prior events. Yesterday’s Indiana 3.8 shake (video right) was called “highly irregular, extremely rare, unprecedented”. This moderate event was strong enough to crack the Earth’s surface and felt in parts of Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and Kentucky.

Quakes don’t have to peg the largest magnitude to bring utter destruction. Look at January’s Haiti event. That 7.0 event is responsible for this year’s massive death toll. “The cost of rebuilding Haiti’s homes, schools, roads and other infrastructure could soar to nearly $14 billion.” As of Dec. 26, 1.5 million remain homeless.


More Swarms

Quakes clustered in numerous places around the US this year. Many are on-going. Central Arkansas has been hit with more than 500 temblors since Sept. 20 and no one knows their cause. Quakes have been categorized by residents as “barely noticeable” to “very noticeable”.

Oklahoma also experienced unusually high quake activity including a Richter 4.3. Some speculated these might be human-caused, but scientists later dismissed the theory. Though the largest event only produced a Richter 4, the area bears watching as it includes the New Madrid Seismic Zone and Tennesseans are worried. Speaking of which the 199th anniversary of the great trio New Madrid quakes was noted last week.

Image: New Madrid Seismic zone. (Argonne National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science)

Another intensive swarm pummeled southern Calif. in July and it continues today. These events coincide with the quake series in Mexico and another 4.4 quake hit on Dec. 23. Just north of Mexicali, San Diego recorded more than 100 earthquakes since the impressive 7.2 Easter quake.

Another swarm formed this month in Reno, Nevada where 46 quakes hit in 7 days. Typically the experts say it is typical…

Earlier in 2010, yet another swarm clustered at Yellowstone. It chalked up over 1500 shakes before quieting in February.

Outside the country, Christchurch, New Zealand saw a record-breaking (for them) 1445 earthquakes following a 7.1 temblor that struck September. It is still recording aftershocks with the most recent the day after Christmas. This 4.4 shake managed to damage another 20 buildings. The main event of Sept. is New Zealand’s most costly quake racking up over $3.5 billion in damages.

Last year a 30,000-strong swarm pummeled Saudi Arabia. To scientists’ surprise, these temblors revealed that the area is “unexpectedly volcanically active”. Lava is just a mere 2km below surface.

Shaking Big, Shaking Early, Still Shaking

This is how worldwide earthquakes stack up for 2010. Not only has a significant amount of quakes occurred, but extraordinary numbers of people have perished in them. Over a quarter million lives have been lost this year when only 10,000 is typical.

By July, yearly averages were already filling up. Disturbingly all of the larger magnitude quakes are higher than 100%, and some significantly more so.

The “birth pangs” are accelerating. Buckle up.

Visit Millennium Ark to See Full Earthquake Chart and Video

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