Earthquake Watch 2010 1st Quarter Report
There are a lot of people right now who will say that quakes have increased in frequency. As of this quarter, they are absolutely correct. There have been an extremely large amount of earthquakes this quarter – when we speak of 5 and six magnitude quakes, anyway. 7 magnitude quakes are actually about average or below, depending on which average you are using and we’re at the average for 8 magnitude.
Most of the overage of 5 magnitude quakes is aftershock from major quakes. Chile’s recent 8.8 magnitude quake was the seventh largest in recent history and that area rumbled with 5 magnitude aftershocks for several weeks. Only now are they tapering off. The aftershocks of major quakes always have the capability of raising the stats for a quarter.
What is different about the recent quakes is they are all happening at depths of either 35 kilometers or 10 kilometers globally. We are undergoing a shift in the lithosphere at these depths. Many of the plate borders have already responded to the shift. There are still areas that haven’t that we really hope will not be effected.
All in all, some of the stats are a bit startling, but there is still three quarters of a year for them to normalize and equal out.
The USGS statistical averages are averages since 1990. That is when global tracking was achieved and we have no way of knowing for sure how accurately those statistics represent numbers before that time. There are scientists who did tracking, but there were also many very volatile areas that aren’t populated and it was impossible to track before. From old records we can assume that there have been more recently, but there is no way to know for sure.
We also have an RHS1 3 year statistical average which was drawn from my three year quake report from 2006, 07, 08 that I will compare the quarterly statistics to, so we can see a more current trend.
What are the statistics?
8 Magnitude and Stronger:
We had one so far this year. The 8.8 magnitude that hit Chili last month was the 7th largest in recent history.
The USGS average is 1, if any per year. The RHS1 average is two per year.
7 Magnitude and Stronger:
We only had three of these this quarter. The USGS average is 17 per year so we are light of average by around 30%.
RHS1 average is 11 annually, a 35% drop from the USGS average. If this rate continues we will be light by one per year so can still be considered in a very average range for these severe events. In the first weeks of the 2nd quarter, however, you will see these quakes buck up to just barely over RSH1 averages and headed toward USGS averages.
6 Magnitude and Stronger:
We had 48 of these strong shakers in this quarter. This amount is over average any way you look at it.
The USGS average is 134 per year. RHS1 average is up 16% from the USGS at 159 annual mag 6 quakes. At the rate of occurrence we saw this quarter we would be seeing 192 of these shakers. If this rate continues we will be 31% over the USGS average and 18% over the RHS1 average. Ten of these quakes can be attributed to aftershocks of the 8.8 magnitude quake in Chile. All but a few occurred at depths of 10 – 35 kilometers. 5 were at depths of greater than 100kms. The rest were shallow quakes of 10 to 35 kilometers, with a few ranging to 50 kms deep so again we are seeing a rash of very shallow quakes for the most part.
5 Magnitude and Stronger:
Another Wow here and add a Yikes.
We had 565 magnitude 5 quakes this quarter. A continuance of this rate would put us at a whopping 2260 for one year. That is a 42% increase from the USGS average of 1319 per year. It is an even larger increase from the RHS1 average which is only 1275 per year. For the three years of tracking at RHS1, we actually had fewer than average mag 5 quakes. We are sitting on a 44% increase from the more recent 3 year average. Again, many of these quakes – literally hundreds were aftershock tremors of strong quakes.
Aftershocks can be expected after any major quake. The statistics for average amounts of quakes are built over years and the years always include some major quakes so the statistics do reflect these aftershocks as well as random quakes. This year as our major quakes are occurring at shallow depths, we’re getting massive amounts of aftershocks, too. We are also experiencing these shallow quakes around the globe generally as well. Doomsday sayers can have fun with this shift in the lithosphere, but if you aren’t real fond of “end of the world” stories, you’re in the right place because I’m not going to tell you one.
Our crust shifts periodically just as our magnetic poles do. A few years ago I found out that our magnetic North pole is traveling toward Siberia at the rate of 25 miles a year. As a magnetic pole travels, matter will align with it just as it always does. When this alignment begins to effect the centrifugal force, land mass will move. That appears to be the case in the current frequencies of quakes as they are all being experienced at the same depths globally and the plate boundaries are being shaken with extreme strength indicating severe pressure on them. If you find this movement frightening, if you live on a subduction zone or major fault line, you have a right to be worried. So far several of these zones have been experiencing strong quakes. As far as the end of the world? Um…don’t count this shaking being an indication of it. Our magnetic poles shift fairly often. They have done so several times in the last few hundred years and so far humans seem to be surviving as a species even though there are more people living in zones with catastrophic potentials. If masses of people live in a volatile subduction zone area, we will see massive destruction when the zone snaps. We will see destruction from tsunamis as humans continue to build in tsunami prone areas of coastlines.
While there is still no sure-fire means to predict earthquakes, the recent trend makes it likely that other plate boundaries will snap in the near future. You will find information about two of the most volatile subduction zones in the May RHS1 Connector newsletter.
Until then, may all your shaking take place on a dance floor.
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