Earthquakes in 2010 – A final update

Back in March of 2010, I wrote a post looking at the frequency of earthquakes occurring around the world and examined whether or not there were more earthquakes occuring than normal. Specifically, I chose to look at earthquakes between M6.0 and M6.9, as they are sufficiently large enough to be detected by seismometers around the world and they seem to be well documented in recent history.

So, what were the final numbers for 2010? Using the global earthquake search tool on the USGS website, we can see that there were 151 M6.0 – M6.9 earthquakes detected last year.

FILE CREATED: Mon Jan 3 19:59:37 2011
Global Search Earthquakes = 151
Catalog Used: PDE
Date Range: 2010/01/01 to 2010/12/31
Magnitude Range: 6.0 – 6.9
Data Selection: Historical & Preliminary Data

According to recent USGS data, an average of ~134 earthquakes happen in this range every year. Yes, we had 151, but does that mean it’s time to freak out?


It falls well within what we would expect. In fact, there were more earthquakes within this magnitude range in 2007 (178) and 2008 (178)! What? Crazy!

A few more data points:
M7.0 – M7.9 eq’s in 2010: 21 (avg: ~17)
M8.0 – M8.9 eq’s in 2010: 1 (avg: ~1)

Here’s a handy table from the USGS [via]:


So, to sum things up, the world is not ending, despite what crazy folks say, earthquakes are not increasing, and there’s probably a number of other things more important to worry about.

Cheers and happy new year!

9 Replies to “Earthquakes in 2010 – A final update”

  1. In all of your studies and findings have you ever tried to correlate any ao those to bibical studies and if so could you tell me how you feel about it? thanks

  2. From this chart, if the average is 134, it seems like all the years posted there with the exception of maybe 2, were higher than the average. Wouldn’t that make the average now a little higher like around 145? And if that makes the average higher wouldn’t that mean it is increasing?

  3. I was also wondering if you took the average of the earthquakes in 2000+ and compared them with the earthquake averages of the 90’s separately would that show a difference. The 90’s average for 6.0-6.9 = 121, while the 2000 era (so far) = 145. The 90’s average for 7.0-7.9 = 13, while the 2000’s = 14 (not much difference there unless u look at sums instead of averages.) The number of 8.0+ in the 90’s = .5, and in the 2000’s = 1.2. There seems to be a decade of definite increase there. I guess we won’t know for sure until after 2011. :/

    1. Without a doubt. There is a definite increase in the number of earthquakes recorded. Why do I emphasize recording? Because in the past 20 years, there has been a huge push to setup more instrumentation (increasing both the number of instruments and sensitivity of instruments as technology permits).

      Check out projects such as Earthscope and others. This increased instrumentation has helped us detect even more earthquakes. (For the record, I’m willing to wager that these earthquakes were always happening at the same rates — we just weren’t able to detect them before).

      I understand that answer won’t satisfy a lot of conspiracy theorists or doomsday believers, so indeed, we’ll probably have to continue to wait until after 2011, 2012, 2013, and beyond.

  4. Yeah, I get that, and that’s very possible and what I’d rather like to be true. What about in certain areas, around fault lines that have had the graphs there to test at least from the 90’s+? Like the United States, for instance, can probably be compared. It seems like so far the 6.0-6.9 has increased even without 2011 not being over, it’s still going to average higher. I’m not saying it is or it isn’t, just thought it’s a curious subject. I don’t know what to believe, but I do believe it’s better to be prepared for something even if it doesn’t happen then not be prepared if it does happen.

  5. Hi,

    Just wondering if you know the answer to my question. As a New Zealanders, I have watch the earthquakes happening in Chirstchurch, NZ beginning on Sept 4, 2010 and continuing to present. I was even in Christchurch for some major ones on Dec 23, 2011. My quest is, has any other area in the world gone from nearly no earthquakes to having nearly 10,000 in 17 months. Check out for more local info. I just want an example of anywhere else in the world who has ever experienced such drama.

    Thanks, Julie

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