Photo Credit: HARISH TYAGI / EPThe annual number of “great” earthquakes nearly tripled over the last decade, providing a reminder to Americans that unruptured faults like those in the northwest United States might be due for a Big One.
Between 2004 and 2014, 18 earthquakes with magnitudes of 8.0 or more rattled subduction zones around the globe. That’s an increase of 265 percent over the average rate of the previous century, which saw 71 great quakes, according to a report to the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America this week in Vancouver, British Columbia.
It’s clear that recent “great” earthquakes “triggered” related major quakes, says study author Thorne Lay, distinguished professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
“If we look at all earthquake magnitudes, the past 10 years is not unusual in terms of the rate of events; the rate increases are just seen for events with magnitudes larger than 7.5 or so,” he said. “This suggests that great events were ‘catching up’ on the plate boundary motions in several regions with fortuitous similar timing.”
And by fortuitous, Lay means that he thinks it’s just coincidence that all those big earthquakes happened over the last 10 years.
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