Are earthquakes becoming more frequent and more powerful? With only two months to go, we are on pace to have more earthquakes of magnitude-5.0 or greater this year than we have had during any other year over the past decade by far. In fact, as you will see in this article, since the year 2000 there has been a very clear upward trend in the number of major earthquakes. So is this an indication that major earth changes are coming? Is our planet becoming increasingly unstable? We are currently witnessing tremendous political, social and financial upheaval all over the globe. Every week the economic crisis in the United States and elsewhere seems to get even worse. So what is going to happen if the shaking of the earth becomes even more intense and major cities all over the planet start getting leveled? For most of human history we have seriously underestimated the awesome destructive power of natural disasters, and the fact that the number of earthquakes around the world seems to be going up consistently should be a huge wake up call for all of us.
These days powerful earthquakes happen so frequently that most people hardly notice them anymore.
The other day Oklahoma experienced a magnitude-5.6 earthquake. It was the largest earthquake that has ever been recorded in the state. It was so powerful that it was felt in Illinois and in Tennessee. There were more than 30 aftershocks. But it barely made a blip in the news and after a couple days everyone had forgotten about it.
A magnitude-5.7 earthquake just struck eastern Turkey. The vast majority of people will have forgotten about it by tomorrow.
So why don’t people care about these huge earthquakes?
Well, it is because they are just so incredibly common these days.
In 2001, there were 1361 earthquakes of magnitude-5.0 or greater around the globe. This year, we are on pace to have nearly twice as many.
In 2011, we are on pace to have more than 2600 earthquakes of magnitude-5.0 or greater.
As you can see from the following chart from americandailyherald.com, the number of major earthquakes has been rising steadily over the past decade, and the 2600 major earthquakes that we are on pace to have this year is going to far surpass all of the previous years on this chart….
So what do most geologists say about this data?
Well, most of them continue to make the “politically correct” claim that the number of earthquakes is not really increasing. Instead, they say that what is happening is that our ability to detect earthquakes has gotten better.
Of course that is a bunch of nonsense. Our ability to detect major earthquakes has not doubled over the past ten years.
Let’s take a look at another chart.
This next chart comes from dlindquist.com, and it is a graph of the number of earthquakes magnitude-6.0 or greater that have occurred since 1973. As you can see, the trend is clearly up….
If, as many geologists claim, the reason for the higher number of major earthquakes is our constantly improving ability to detect them, then why was the number of earthquakes magnitude-6.0 or greater fairly consistent between 1973 and 1999?
It has just been over the past ten years or so that major earthquakes have become much more frequent and much more powerful.
But it hasn’t just been earthquakes that have been increasing in frequency and intensity.
There have been more natural disasters that have caused more than a billion dollars in damage this year than in any other year in U.S. history. The following short excerpt comes from a recent ABC News article….
From Hurricane Irene, which soaked the entire East Coast in August, to the Midwest tornadoes, which wrought havoc from Wisconsin to Texas, 2011 has seen more billion-dollar natural disasters than any year on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center.
And as America’s hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and wildfires set records this year, so too has President Obama in his response to them.
During the first 10 months of this year President Obama declared 89 major disasters, more than the record 81 declarations that he made in all of 2010.
Barack Obama has already declared more major disasters in less than three years than any other president has ever declared over an entire four year term.
So just what in the world is going on?
Is something going on that we should be alarmed about?
Well, nobody knows exactly what is going on, but clearly there has been an increase in seismic activity all over the globe.
Over the past few years, the “Ring of Fire” around the Pacific Ocean has become unusually active. We have seen absolutely devastating earthquakes hit places such as Chile and New Zealand. Earlier this year, Japan experienced the worst earthquake that it has ever seen and it produced a tsunami that was so devastating that it will never be forgotten.
The west coast of the United States also sits along the “Ring of Fire” and it is definitely overdue for a “killer earthquake”.
But that is not the only part of the country that should be concerned.
It is entirely possible that a massive earthquake could strike at any time along the New Madrid fault zone that would absolutely devastate major U.S. cities from Chicago all the way down to New Orleans.
It has happened before.
Back in 1811 and 1812 four mammoth earthquakes along the New Madrid fault shook the entire eastern half of the country. These quakes opened up deep fissures in the ground, caused the Mississippi River to run backwards and they caused church bells to ring as far away as Boston.
So what would such an earthquake do today?
Well, one study by the University of Illinois found that a 7.7-magnitude earthquake along the New Madrid fault would leave 3,500 people dead, more than 80,000 injured and more than 7 million homeless.
So what would happen if a magnitude-8.7 earthquake struck?
Remember, an 8.7-magnitude earthquake would be ten times larger than a 7.7-magnitude earthquake.
That is something to think about.
We live in very unusual times.
It seems like everything that can be shaken is being shaken.
Let us hope that the earth calms down for a while and that the number of major earthquakes begins to stabilize again.
But there is no guarantee that is going to happen.
In fact, many believe that this is only just the beginning.
Fasten your seatbelts, because the years ahead could be very, very interesting.