@geologynews wanted to know where he could find “a list of all earthquakes from 2010 (say, >M5.0+), not just from the past week or month.” At the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) Earthquake Browser, of course!
The following map shows all 3228 earthquakes between January 1st, 2010 and today.
In two months, a tiny fraction of a percentage of a blink of the geological eye, there were around three thousand recorded movements of the lithosphere. They nicely outline Earth’s plates and some intra-plate activity: Oceans subducting under continents, the mid-Atlantic rift quietly creating new crust, the furious Pacific Ring of Fire, the East African Rift, India ramming away at Asia and America unraveling at the Basin and Range. The Earth is alive and doing its thing. Earthquakes aren’t oddities, they are the natural norm. Never forget that.
Next up are all earthquakes of Magnitude 5.0 and above for the same time frame. These make up around 20% of all earthquakes in the last two months.
The IRIS Earthquake Browser uses the Google base map and interface, so you can zoom in on particular earthquake-hit regions and look at satellite imagery and terrain data along with regular map view.
I urge everyone to donate as much as they can to the victims of the earthquakes in Chile and Haiti, and also ask you to take an objective stance towards why natural disasters happen. As I explained to my physician brother who was concerned about the frequency and severity of recent earthquakes and attendant natural disasters, think of the earth as the human body, i.e. it’s all inter-connected and there is a perfectly plausible reason for all “ailments,” even ones we don’t yet fully understand.
Let’s use Haiti and Chile themselves as examples. Haiti is an impoverished and deforested former French island colony sitting on the steep, clayey soil over an active strike-slip fault which just moved in a catastrophic manner in the lead-up to the rainy and hurricane seasons. I hope to still be alive when the nation is rebuilt and recovers from its ongoing and upcoming physical, emotional and social trauma. The geographic shape of Chile could not have been fashioned more disastrously by the gods themselves. The nation parallels an active subduction zone to the west and a highly-explosive mountain range to the east. When were this earthquake and associated tsunami NOT going to happen? (As it happened half a century before. And how long until the Andes let one loose?) Thankfully, Chilean buildings are more sturdy in build and the earthquake occurred offshore and not directly underfoot as in the case of Haiti. This also highlights the difference between the magnitude and intensity of an earthquake and why a 7.0 in Haiti wreaked more havoc than an 8.8 in Chile. Again, this time around, the generated tsunami did not take as many lives as in 2004.
Each new natural and unnatural disaster definitely weakens our collective will, but it’s not an excuse for brain rot. This is why I’m glad to be alive in the internet age. We use this interconnectedness to give and get help, hope and knowledge. Vive Haiti. Vive Chile.