Tag Archives: United States Geological Survey

Earthquake Frequency Up 133% In 2010

There’s been a sharp increase in the number of earthquakes all over the world in the first six months of 2010. Earthquakes with magnitude between 5 and 7 on the Richter scale is up 133%, compared to average frequency over the last hundred years.

“We will see if the trend continues as the rest of 2010 plays out.”

Modern Survival Blog


The Modern Survival Blog have updated their statistics on earthquake frequency for 2010, analyzing data back to 1900. During the month of June the overall earthquake numbers have brought the percentages down a bit, although it’s still well above average.

Earthquakes between magnitude 5.0 and 6.9 are still up and occurring 133 percent more frequently than average statistics so far during 2010, according to the recent analysis by the Modern Survival Blog.

Earthquakes between magnitude 5.0 and 9.9 are occurring 125 percent more frequently than average statistics so far during 2010.

The last time MSB analyzed the 2010 data (during the end of May), the overall frequency of occurrence was somewhat higher than this analysis. In other words, during the month of June the overall earthquake numbers have brought the percentages down a bit, although still above average as noted.

“We will see if the trend continues as the rest of 2010 plays out,” the blogger writes.

The data used in the 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 (5.0 to 5.9, 6.0 – 6.9, 7.0 to 7.9, and 8.0 to 9.9), 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 4.9 or less, were not analyzed for the following reasons.

* Low magnitude earthquake detection technologies of the early 1900’s were not what they were decades later, and certainly not as advanced as today

* Low magnitude detection technology improvement would skew the numbers as though they’ve increased significantly in more recent times

* They cause little or no damage

(Earthquakes above magnitude 4.9 were fairly easy to detect, even a century ago).

The Results

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* Earthquakes of magnitude 5 – 5.9 have increased by 127 percent compared with same range of earthquakes over the last 10 years.

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* Earthquakes of magnitude 5 – 5.9 have increased by 149 percent compared with same range of earthquakes since the year 1900.

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* Earthquakes of magnitude 6 – 6.9 have increased by 126 percent compared with same range of earthquakes over the last 10 years.

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* Earthquakes of magnitude 6 – 6.9 have increased by 136 percent compared with same range of earthquakes since the year 1900.

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* Earthquakes of magnitude 7 – 7.9 have increased by 139 percent compared with same range of earthquakes over the last 10 years.

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* Earthquakes of magnitude 7 – 7.9 have increased by 122 percent compared with same range of earthquakes since the year 1900.

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* Earthquakes of magnitude 8 – 9.9 have equaled the average of 1 compared with same range of earthquakes over the last 10 years.

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* Earthquakes of magnitude 8 – 9.9 have equaled the average of 1 compared with same range of earthquakes since the year 1900.*

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Katla Update

After 61 earthquakes in the Katla area in Island since May 17th, the giant volcano seems to have taken a little break in June.

However another earthquake was reported yesterday, June 30th.

The Icelandic Met office lately has been adding earthquake’s that are late, as much as 24 – 36 hours late, to their 48 hr. map, according to the Modern Survival Blog.

“3 EQ’s popped up Saturday indicating they were 36 hours old – but were not there earlier – they also added one on Sunday, already 12 hours old, added another on Wednesday about 24 hours old – strange. We’ll see what they decide to do today…”

Katla volcano – 61 Earthquake’s as of 17-May

Volcano Ash Can Send The Earth Into “Deep Freeze”

Katla Update: 6 Eartquakes In The Last 24 hours

More Mysterious “Monster Fish” Comes To Surface

Earthquake May Have Shortened Days on Earth

Mother Earth On Crack

The Earth: A Danger Zone

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Katla Update: 6 Eartquakes In The Last 24 hours

At 7:03 this morning the first powerful earthquake shook the ground at the Katla volcano in Iceland. Just 10 seconds later a second, but smaller, earthquake, occurred. So far there has been 6 earthquakes within the last 24 hours.

“It is interesting to note the buildup of earthquakes on the East-Northeast rim area.”

Modern Survival Blog


The activity in the area around the Katla volcano in Iceland seem to be increasing. In the last 24 hours there’s been a total of 6 earthquakes, that might be a sign of a giant eruption underway.

The Modern Survival Blog reports:

Friday, 11-June-2010, 07:03 this morning, an earthquake shook at the Katla volcano in Iceland.

10 seconds later, a slightly larger magnitude earthquake struck.

10 minutes later another earthquake trembled followed by yet a fourth earthquake hours later.

As I was writing this, a fifth earthquake just popped off!

Update: Now a sixth earthquake has gone off – this one though, way over on the western edge of the glacier area – lots of excitement today…

Increasing frequency?

The Modern Survival Blog have been monitoring the earthquakes at Katla since mid May.

These six earthquakes are the most in one day so far.

There is no evidence of swarming at this time – but it could definitively be the beginning of a swarm.

Anyway, it is interesting to note today’s rapid occurrence of earthquakes.

Katla, that historically erupts following the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull  – which first erupted April 14th –  is about 10 times more powerful, and has the potential to cause worldwide disruption.

An increasing frequency in the earthquake activity might very well be an indication than the eruption of Katla is near.

But time will tell.

Number of earthquakes up 151% this year

“The number of magnitude 5.0 to 6.9 worldwide earthquakes are showing a significant increase so far this year during 2010, and are up 151 percent compared with the same range and time span of earthquakes since the year 1900, as of this independent analysis, 25-May-2010,” The Modern Survival Blog writes.

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 is 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 this survey not 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.

This report have averaged the number of earthquakes since 1900 in each magnitude range, and have also averaged the same data over the last 10 years. It is then compared this with the data of current earthquake statistics so far in 2010.

* Earthquakes of magnitude 5 – 5.9 have increased by 139 percent compared with same range of earthquakes over the last 10 years.

* Earthquakes of magnitude 5 – 5.9 have increased by 163 percent compared with same range of earthquakes since the year 1900.

* Earthquakes of magnitude 6 – 6.9 have increased by 130 percent compared with same range of earthquakes over the last 10 years.

* Earthquakes of magnitude 6 – 6.9 have increased by 140 percent compared with same range of earthquakes since the year 1900.

However, scientist are not able to conclude with certainty if the earthquake frequency is, in fact, increasing or not, because there’s not enough historical data.

A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On

“From our human perspective with our relatively short and incomplete memories and better and better communications around the world, we hear about more earthquakes and it seems like they are more frequent,” J. Ramón Arrowsmith, a geologist at Arizona State University, says.

“But this is probably not any indication of a global change in earthquake rate of significance,” he adds.

“Coupled with better communication, as the human population skyrocket and we move into more hazardous regions, we’re going to hear more about the events that do occur,” Arrowsmith assumes.

However, Stephen S. Gao, a geophysicist at Missouri University of Science & Technology, says:

“Relative to the 20-year period from the mid 1970′s to the mid 1990′s, the Earth has been more active over the past 15 or so years.”

“We still do not know the reason for this yet. It could simply be the natural temporal variation of the stress field in the earth’s lithosphere.”

h/t Birgitta Höglund

Related by the Econotwist:

Katla Update: 2 Earthquakes In 3 Hour

Katla Now Rumbling – Ready To Blow?

Volcano Ash Can Send The Earth Into “Deep Freeze”

More Mysterious “Monster Fish” Comes To Surface

Earthquake May Have Shortened Days on Earth

Mother Earth On Crack

Stunning Volcano Pictures

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Mother Earth On Crack

It must be the worst nightmare; the forces of nature spinning totally out of control. Is that what is about to happen? With one major ecological catastrophe after another? If so, it would be the “fattest tail” in the history of science.

“We hear about more earthquakes and it seems like they are more frequent.”

J. Ramón Arrowsmith

8,8 on The Richter Scale is quite a ride. But it’s not abnormal. Nor is the earthquake frequency out of the “normal” range, according to scientists. What’s worries me is that most scientists are using the same mathematical models when reaching their conclusions as the economists that didn’t see the financial crisis coming.

The Chilean earthquake, and the tsunami it spawned, originated on a hot spot known as a subduction zone, where one plate of Earth‘s crust dives under another.

It’s part of the very active “Ring of ire,” a zone of major crustal plate clashes that surround the Pacific Ocean.

“This particular subduction zone has produced very damaging earthquakes throughout its history,” says Randy Baldwin, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), according to Associated Press.

The world’s largest quake ever recorded, magnitude 9.5, occurred along the same fault zone in May 1960.

A Whole Lotta Shaking Going On

Magnitude-8 earthquakes occur globally, on average, just once a year.

“Since magnitudes are given on a logarithmic scale, an 8.8-magnitude is much more intense than a magnitude 8, and so this event would be even rarer,” J. Ramón Arrowsmith, a geologist at Arizona State University, says.

The Ryukyu Islands of Japan were hit with a 7.0-magnitude quake just last night. News of this, the Haiti quake and now Chile make it seem Earth is becoming ever more active. But in the grand scheme of things, geologists say this is just Mother Nature as usual.

“From our human perspective with our relatively short and incomplete memories and better and better communications around the world, we hear about more earthquakes and it seems like they are more frequent,” Arrowsmith said.

“But this is probably not any indication of a global change in earthquake rate of significance.”

“Coupled with better communication, as the human population skyrocket and we move into more hazardous regions, we’re going to hear more about the events that do occur,” Arrowsmith adds.

However, Stephen S. Gao, a geophysicist at Missouri University of Science & Technology, says: “Relative to the 20-year period from the mid 1970’s to the mid 1990’s, the Earth has been more active over the past 15 or so years.”

“We still do not know the reason for this yet. Could simply be the natural temporal variation of the stress field in the earth’s lithosphere.”

(The lithosphere; the outer solid part of the Earth.)

Common Factors

The latest earthquake in Chile have two common factors with the 7,0 magnitude quake in Japan recently.

For one, any seismic waves that did make their way from Japan to the Chilean coast could play a slight role in the ground-shaking.

“It is too far away for any direct triggering, and those distances also make the seismic waves as they would pass by from the Haiti or Japan events pretty small because of attenuation,” J. Ramón Arrowsmith says.

(Attenuation is the decrease in energy with distance.)

“Nevertheless, if the Chilean fault surface were close to failure, those small waves could push it even closer.”

In addition, both regions reside within the Ring of Fire, which is a zone surrounding the Pacific Ocean where the Pacific tectonic plate and other plates dive beneath other slabs of Earth.

About 90 percent of the world’s earthquakes occur along this arc.

The Fat Tail of Mother Nature

What do you think geologists, climate scientists, financial engineers and poker players have in common?

Financial model

They all use – roughly – the same mathematical models, based on available historical data,  to calculate probability.

Events that occur outside the statistical pattern are usually referred to as “fat tails”.

The last couple of years, the term “Black Swan” have been used about similar unexpected incidences.

(After Nassim Taleb’s famous book by the same name).

The “rocket scientists” on Wall Street obviously ran into a “fat tail” and it seems like the climate scientists, (or should I say “the climate industry”?),  are about to do the same.

So, what about the geologists?

What happen if?

That’s the question probability models are used for.

General model

The answer is only as reliable as the date you put into the formula.

And when it comes to the development of the Earth, our historical data is less than insignificant.

Even a million years is next to nothing.

Still, we’re determined to alter the composition of our  delicate earthly mechanisms.

Without knowing the consequences.

What would happen if we replaced all the salt water on the Earth with fresh water?

Or, what would happen if we replaced all the oil in the Earths lithosphere with a mixture of salt water and dirt? (Or pump the empty oil wells in the North Sea full of CO2?)

Well, I’m no geologist.

Related by the Econotwist

The Tragedy of The Century

Obama announces “non-binding” climate accord

A non-agreement on nothing

“Mini Ice Age” Underway?

Europe Risks Being Sidelined In Climate Talk

Netherlands Adds New Controversy To UN Climate Report

Top Scientist: “UN Climate Panel Is Losing All Credibility”

World May Not Be Warming, Scientists Says

As Climate War Intensifies, So Does Extreme Weather

Extreme Weather Around The Globe

Top 10 Risks of 2010

Coldest January In Norwegian History

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