Living on an Active Planet

We are periodically startled by the occurrence of a major tragic earthquake, reminding us of how active planet Earth is and of the incredible power of nature. Perhaps equally awe-inspiring, though, is how many earthquakes occur every minute of every day.

Many earthquakes occur in areas of low population density where they do not have major effects on people and therefore do not make headline news, but seismic monitoring reveals the daily seismic shifts of our planet. To appreciate just how seismically active the Earth is, consider the following statistics:

Each year, about one truly huge earthquake (magnitude 8 or greater) occurs somewhere on Earth. About one earthquake at least as big as the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti (magnitude 7) occurs each month. And about two to four magnitude 6 or greater earthquakes occur every week.

Including earthquakes that are at least large enough to cause minor to moderate damage if they occurred near areas of high population density (i.e., magnitude 5 and greater): There are about four to six magnitude 5 or greater earthquakes somewhere on Earth every day. About two or three magnitude 4 or greater earthquakes occur every hour, and about one magnitude 3 or greater earthquake occurs every two to three minutes. And including the smallest earthquakes that are generally able to be felt by people (magnitude 2): About four to eight magnitude 2 or greater earthquakes occur every minute.

Think about it: While you were reading this blog, a few earthquakes big enough to be felt occurred somewhere on our very active planet.

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