No rise in big quakes - study

2011-12-20 10:15

Washington - Massive earthquakes are no more likely today than they were a century ago, despite an apparent rise in recent years of the devastating temblors, US researchers said on Monday.

The deadly 9.0 earthquake this year in Japan, an 8.8 quake in Chile last year and the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake that registered 9.0 on the moment magnitude scale have raised alarm in some science and media circles that such events may be linked.

But researchers at the University of California went back over the world's earthquake records dating back to 1900 and found over time there was no statistically significant rise in the number of big quakes, 7.0 and higher.

"One has to be careful, because humans have a tendency to see patterns in random sequences," lead author Peter Shearer of the UC Berkeley department of statistics told AFP.

Random sequence of events

"So what we wanted to do here was apply statistical tests to see whether you could say it wasn't just a random sequence of events," said Shearer, whose study appears in the US journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Those tests showed that you can't say that it is not random; that is there is not a statistically significant degree of the clustering of events," he said.

Even though there is "a disproportionate number of very large 8.5 earthquakes between 1950 and 1965," there were uncommonly fewer of these during a much longer period afterward from 1965 to 2004, said the study.

And although there has been an higher rate of 8.0 and higher quakes since 2004, with the last five years in particular at a record high, "there have been rates nearly as high in the past," it said.

No physical link

The researchers also looked for any clues from the Earth's crust that could explain why or how big quakes might be linked.

"And the conclusion was no, there isn't a likely physical cause that would link for example a large earthquake in South America to one in Japan," Shearer told AFP.

"The events are just too far away for it to be very likely that there is a physical link between them."

Taken together, the two approaches "suggest that the global risk of large earthquakes is no higher today than it has been in the past", concluded the study.

The findings are in line with a study in Nature Geoscience earlier this year that found the regional hazard of larger earthquakes is increased after a main shock, but the global hazard is not.

  • Breinlekkasie - 2011-12-20 10:51

    O no, now we'll have to rethink the "Signs of the Times" hypothesis regarding the end of the world.

      mbossenger - 2011-12-20 12:54

      Damn! I wanted to make a similar comment, you beat me to it!

      Dirk - 2011-12-20 13:23

      "Of all the things I have lost, I miss my mind the most". Perpetuated by none other than "Breinlekkasie".As in the days of Noah, so it will be!Most studies have shown a dramatic increase in the number of earthquakes, but for obvious reasons, the atheist fraternal,will seize this particular report, to support their prejudiced and misguided opinions

      mbossenger - 2011-12-20 14:36

      What are these prejudiced and misguided opinions?

      Mike - 2011-12-20 17:18

      Mbossenger, Dirk is referring to science, kryptonite to Dirk.

  • Linda - 2011-12-20 10:51

    But 2012 is coming.... wahahaha

      Breinlekkasie - 2011-12-20 11:02

      I still have my ANC membership which were suppose to take me straight to heaven during 2011's End of the World. This End of the World thing is tiring, I just can't keep up with all the religious memberships one requires for safe passage into the afterlife.

      mbossenger - 2011-12-20 12:58

      "But 2012 is coming" - unless they miscalculated the date AGAIN

  • kayceechick - 2011-12-20 10:56

    It is only logical that if there havent been any big shakes for a few years, that there will be big shakes later. The earth is constantly moving, and sooner or later it gives way. The only reason it seems worse now is because the worlds population has increased so much that there is bound to be more fatalities.

      Breinlekkasie - 2011-12-20 11:07

      The media also plays a roll. Nowadays if something happens the whole world know about it within minutes. A hundred years ago it often took two or three days before the news hits the other side of the planet.

      Cameronl - 2011-12-20 11:09

      true that

  • ludlowdj - 2011-12-20 11:27

    I challenge any of the so called "scientists" involved in this study to a live TV discussion of their findings as well as any proof they think will back up their claims. Firstly their use of large scale earthquakes completely negates any finding they would like to make and relegates this entire study to little more than a propaganda campaign. The simple truth which is easily verifiable by checking the records at as well as activity records at and will reveal that not only have we had a steady year on year increase of earthquake activity over the period 2007 to present, but that this year has the highest activity with around 40 recorded earthquakes per day and climbing (479 recorded in the last 30 day period) and we are going through the highest period of swarming in many years as well (swarm is an earthquake which is accompanied by hundreds to thousands of secondary quakes, the largest being recorded at 10 000 over a 1 day period a little earlier this year.

      mbossenger - 2011-12-20 12:57

      ludlowdj - so are we in the end times?

      Dirk - 2011-12-20 13:36

      "But when you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet" Mrk 13:7. "But of that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" Mrk13:32 As the word clearly says, no one knows the hour, but all the conditions have been met for it to happen in the next moment. Do I expect you to believe it? Of course not!

      NuttyZA - 2011-12-20 13:45

      Dirk, and what about the Napoleanic Wars... and all the earthquakes and Tsunamis that happened at that time... or perhaps the 100 years war or the Crusades and all the Earthquakes and other natural disasters around those times... fact is, man has ALWAYS been at war and there have ALWAYS been natural disasters... the World is still here and probably will be long after the human race has become extinct

      Dirk - 2011-12-20 14:01

      Nutty- As I said, "as in the days of Noah" Go and find out what it means. I am certainly not trying to convince you or persuade you of anything.

  • Ever - 2011-12-20 11:42

    Nasty shock for the global warming advocates, then? Everything is normal, as it should be?

      NuttyZA - 2011-12-20 12:00

      What has Global Warming got to do with seismic activity? Global warming DOES occur naturally in +- 250 000 year cycles... it's the speed with which it is happening this time around that suggests human interference is increasing the effect. When it comes to seismic activity, it's same as it ever was... humans killing, raping, maiming each other... probably less of that happens today than in the past... if you ask me, with the slow but steady erradication of religion in the world, global morals are on a steady incline!

      mbossenger - 2011-12-20 12:56

      Ever - global warming? The article is about earthquakes...

  • DiamondDirk - 2011-12-20 13:00

    I don't believe that 110 years is enough to really say if these tremors are sequential or not. I do believe though that the world is angry and it is just clearing her throat before getting rid of that hairball.

  • ludlowdj - 2011-12-20 13:31

    @ CLINTON BIRCH you overlook the obvious, this article is being used to say nothing is happening which is an outright lie, something is happening and its starting to accelerate. My references are short term because the records available to the public before 2007 were conveniently deleted making a long term comparison impossible. You shouldn't look at the story to see what is being said rather look at what isn't being said, or what by omission is being implied. @ MBOSSENGER "end time" is a relative term, is the earth going to end? - NO, the earth will still be here in a hundred million years...well as long as we don't get taken out by converging solar systems or something. Are we heading towards an event which will change everything we know and accept? - YES Climate change has over its previous cycles changed the natural cycles we know and accept and has on occasion taken mankind to the edge of extinction. Will this happen in 2012? - I don't know, much like Yellowstones super volcano it could be tomorrow it could be in hundred years no one including those that say they know do

      Mike - 2011-12-20 15:51

      Clinton it appears you are trying to inform alchemists and astrologists about the scientific process and the value of peer reviewed science. We are definately at the bottom of the list when it comes to scientic literacy.

      Mike - 2011-12-20 16:24

      Clinton, science is hard and require a lot of work, maths, chemistry etc....much easier to buy into scientifically illiterate blogs containing tons of brain farts and no science. Now try and explain what a scientific theory is to the alchemists and see how far you get with that!

  • ludlowdj - 2011-12-21 10:30

    Yes Clinton, the very same scientific "peer reviewed" group that said the earth was flat hey.

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