Temblors in 2010: Record Quaking and Deadly


Haitians piled bodies along the devastated streets of their capital after a catastrophic 7.0 earthquake struck on January 12, 2010. The temblor flattened the president’s palace and the main prison, its cathedral, hospitals, schools and thousands of homes. Untold numbers were trapped. When the final tallies came in, the quake killed at least 230,000 people. Numerous aftershocks and the inevitable diseases that followed took even more lives and continue today. Around three million Haitians – a third of the country’s population – were affected by this quake and two million required food assistance.


Earthquakes pose a significant risk to 75 million
Americans in 39 states.
USGS Jan. 2004

December 31, 2010 — January 1, 2011 update
By Holly Deyo


2011 began with a bang when a 7.0 earthquake struck Argentina, 6:56:59 AM local time. Since the epicenter was over 350 miles deep, most locations felt little shaking. Is this an omen of big things to come this year? Who knows? Though it is interesting to see the first day of the new year experience such a significant event.

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.



GLOBAL EARTHQUAKES JANUARY 1, 1992 - DECEMBER 31, 2010

Mag. 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
2002
2003 2004 Mag. 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Yearly
Ave.
Thru
Dec. 31,
2010
to Ave.
8.0-9.9
Great
0 1 2 3 1 0 2 0 4 3
1
1 2 8.0-9.9
1 1 4 0 1 1 11
100%
7.0-7.9
Major
24 15 13 22 21 20 14 23 16 15
12
16 14 7.0-7.9
11 11 14 12 16 21 1 151
140%
6.0-6.9
Strong
163 141 161 185 160 125 113 123 153 124
130
145 146 6.0-6.9
154 139 178 168 142 151 1342
113%
5.0-5.9
Moderate
1,521 1,449 1,542 1,327 1,223 1,118 979 1,106 1,345 1,243
1,218
1,252 1,637 5.0-5.9
1,954 1,529 2,072 1,768 1,700 1,922 13192
146%
4.0-4.9
Light
5,153 5,034 4,544 8,140 8,794 7,938 7,303 7,042 8,084 8,084
8,584
8,454 10,783 4.0-4.9
13,702 13,048 12,105 12,292 6,980 9,427 13,000
73%
Deaths 3,814 10,036 1,038 7,949 419 2,907 9,430 22,711 231 35,000-
40,000*
1,712
43,819 284,010 Deaths 82,364 6,605 712 88,208 1,787 226,895 10,000
2269%


*NOTES: The exact number of deaths from the January 26, 2001 India earthquake will never be known. According to the Red Cross, "Death toll reports vary widely, with some ranging from more 20,000 to as many as 100,000."


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