Thursday, March 4, 2010

Relationship of Haiti, Chile, Japan and Taiwan Quakes: A 360 Analysis

The Earth is angry.

Or at least it seems that way, with three significant earthquakes in the past week: A 7.0 magnitude quake near Japan last Friday, the huge 8.8 quake near Chile on Saturday, and a 6.4 near Taiwan just recently. And, of course, there was the devastating 7.0 quake in January in Haiti that killed more than 200,000 people.

So, is there any connection among all the quakes? "No, not that we can see," says Paul Caruso, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo. "We've had quite a few quakes in the past two months, but not more than average."

What has made the recent earthquakes newsworthy is that the earthquakes have hit near populated areas, says Caruso. Another 6.4 quake this morning rattled the tiny Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, but no injuries have been reported.

In an average year, the geological survey estimates that several million earthquakes occur around the world. However, many go undetected because they hit remote areas or have very small magnitudes.

According to long-term records (which exist since about 1900), the U.S.G.S. expects that about 17 major earthquakes (magnitude 7.0 - 7.9) and one great earthquake (8.0 or above) will affect the world in any given year.

Caruso says the three recent Pacific quakes are all related to the so-called "ring of fire," a seismically active region that surrounds the ocean. However, the distances between the quakes are far too great for there to be any relationship between them.

USGS; AP;USA Today; various wire reports.

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