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The World Trend In Earthquake Activity
 

Abstract

Summary Observations

Storyboard For The World Trend (discussions on this web page)


Charts In The World Trend Storyboard
(The expanded scroll charts do not display very well in miniature here below)

 

World Quakes Magnitude 4+  1973-2007
expanded web scroll size by MWM
model source:  ANSS Composite Database; world_quake_summary.xls by MWM

 

World Earthquake Activity Magnitude 2.5+ 1973-1998
portrait print gif by MWM
model source: neicpde catalog yearly 2.5 plus;
worldtotalcount.xls by MWM

 

World Earthquake Activity Magnitude 2.5+ 1973-2004
portrait print gif by MWM
model source: neicpde catalog yearly 2.5 plus;
worldtotalcount.xls by MWM

 

World Quakes 4+ Average Daily Frequency 1973-2007
portrait by MWM
quakes_world4+_annual_dailyave_1973-2007.gif
model source:  ANSS Composite Database; world_quake_summary.xls by MWM

World Quakes 6+ Average Daily Frequency 1973-2007
portrait by MWM
quakes_world6+_annual_dailyave_1973-2007.gif
model source:  ANSS Composite Database; world_quake_summary.xls by MWM
 
 
World Quakes 4+ Growth Trend  1973-2027
portrait by MWM
quakes_ex_trend_world4+_1973-2006.gif
model source:  ANSS Composite Database; world_quake_summary.xls by MWM
 
 
World Quakes 4+ Growth Trend  1992-2027
portrait by MWM
quakes_ex_trend_world4+_1992-2006.gif
model source:  ANSS Composite Database; world_quake_summary.xls by MWM
 
 
World Quakes 6+ Growth Trend  1973-2027
portrait by MWM
quakes_exp_growth_world6+_1973-2006.gif
model source:  ANSS Composite Database; world_quake_summary.xls by MWM
 

Parallels Between World Quakes 4+, Lunar Declination, & Size Of Earth's Wobble
portrait by MWM; model source:  ANSS Composite Catalog; world_quake_summary.xls by MWM
quakes4+_compare_trends_tot_world_1973-2007
 

Parallels Between World Quakes 6+, Lunar Declination, & Size Of Earth's Wobble
portrait by MWM
model source:  ANSS Composite Catalog; world_quake_summary.xls by MWM
quakes6+_compare_trends_tot_world_1973-2007


Abstract


Summary Observations

Planetary Scope:   4+ Quakes

(1) Average daily quakes 4+ rose from about 11 per day in 1973 to 41 in 2005, and is currently receding somewhat down to an average daily of about 35 as of May 19, 2007 (which will probably rise somewhat by the end of 2007).  We find a firm trend which is remarkably constant and appears to be a little greater than threefold.

(2)  If we average the daily counts year by year and draw the trend and then add an exponential growth curve from 1992, we can predict that average quake activity Class 4+, could DOUBLE in as little as 16 years to reach 80 per day by 2022.  That's an EIGHTFOLD gain since 1973.

(3)  Most of the increase in this activity is on Eurasia, its eastern edges, or on the northern edge of the Australian Plate.  As will be seen in the Storyboard for the Compression Zones, there is very little increase in North America.

(4)  There is no observable correlation between World Quakes 4+ and the Saros Cycle, which measures variations in the tilt of the Moon's Orbit.  The Saros cycle is shown by the black line which swings up and down through an 18 year cycle between extremes of 18 degrees and 28 degrees.  The quake trend is moving with no apparent connection with the extremes in the Moon's orbital tilt.
 
(5)  There is a small degree of correlation shown between average quake activity and the size of the Earth's Wobble. Most valleys in the waveform  (the blue line which defines the seven year variation in the size of the Earth's Wobble) are accompanied (fairly closely) by a small downturn in average daily quake activity

(6)  The period 1999-2006 is anomalous with the period 1973-1997.  Notice that the behavior begins to shift in 1999 (quake activity increases regardless of the Wobble MIN) .  The parallel completely "blows" apart 180 degrees in phase during 2005/2006 during the MIN period of the Wobble's Cartoid Moment. 

(7)  If one looks backward during the past 34 years, a downturn begins to appear during 2006 similar to many other downturns during a Wobble MIN.  This downturn is most likely due mainly to the cessation of 4+ quake activity in January and  February of 2006 during the Wobble's cessation (also called a Cartoid Moment in the Earth Changes Gallery).

Planetary Scope: 2.5+ Quakes

(8) For the period 1973-2004, there was a fivefold increase in quake activity.

Planetary Scope: 6+ Quakes

(9)  For the period 1973-2007, daily average quake activity nearly doubled. From one 6+ quake every fours days in 1973, we find one almost every 2 days during 2006.

(10) Curiously, for 2006 there was a significant increase in the count for Class 6+  quakes and a decline in Class 4+ quakes. 

(11) If the current trend continues, Class 6+ quakes will double again by 2048, bringing us one major destructive quake every day.  Fortunately the majority of these will continue to be in remote areas.  But the incidence of disruption in human affairs since 2000 is likely to double in frequency and loss and an increase of this magnitude is a pretty ghastly prospect for many areas of the world.

(12) There are few if any correlations between quakes 6+ and the Lunar Declination.  Ditto between quakes 6+ and the size of Earth's Wobble.

(13) As with Class 4+ quakes, the period from about 1999 is anomalous with the period of approximately 1973-1997.

(14)  Class 4+ quakes and Class 6+ quakes rise and fall in different patterns. There points of similarity between their sequences but there are also strong dissimilarities. There may be a negative correlation between the frequency of modest size quakes (Class 4.00-5.99) and the major Class 6+ quakes (one increases at some times while the other decreases).   This should be seriously analyzed on the planetary level.

Planetary Scope All Magnitudes 2.5+

(15)  It is very difficult to correlate the 4+ quake graph line with orbital cycles and the wobble because there is not enough "swing" up and down in the variations to see a connection to other events in the Earth.  World average figures obscure rather then illuminate connections with the cosmos.

See also the discussion immediately below in the panel for the first chart


 

Storyboard For The World Trend

World Daily Quakes Magnitude 4+  1973-2007
expanded web scroll size by MWM
quakes4+_daily_world_1973-2007_expanded.gif
model source:  ANSS Composite Database; world_quake_summary.xls by MWM

 

We begin with a simple daily count of all quakes 4+.  This chart is so large that it is shown on a separate page.  Click on the title or click here. Scroll the entire chart and read the few sentences beneath the chart.

After returning here, now click your heels three times and repeat after the USGS.  There are no trends in earthquake activity.  There are no trends in earthquake...  There are... Say What?

By observing certain characteristics of  REAL WORLD quake activity very carefully and correlating them with other events and data, we can deduce how in fact Geotectonics (physics of Earth's mechanical structure) works to produce the world we know.  From this systemic vision, we can also deduce what is causing most of the major trends of physical change in today's world.

Success in doing this is directly proportionally to being very clear about what in fact you are seeing before your very eyes and dealing with what in fact you are seeing rather than what someone told you to believe in college textbooks.

There were several fundamentals to observe in the giant chart which are of profound importance for our understanding of planetary tectonics and what is likely to have happened in the past and again in the not so far away future. 

Before discussing them, did you notice the anomalous "cleft" in the trace during December 2005 and January 2006?  This is not a mistake.  This is one of the greatest and most specific clues I have found yet about what drives tectonic activity in the Earth.  The Earth's tectonic plates did not move during this period of time, the only such moment in 34 years.  No motion = no earthquakes (above 4+).  What caused it?  Earth's Wobble (so-called Chandler) terminated its normal cycle and lay at rest for nearly two months.  When the wobble  resumed motion, tectonic motion resumed and earthquake activity resumed.  This is about as clear a demonstration of the power of the Wobble in the Spin Energy of the Earth as can be found. 

As you wander through this site, ask these questions:

(1) Re the Cleft (paragraph above), what about activity below mag 4, down to micro levels, say mag 2 to 3.9?  Good question.  Requires four months of the ANSS catalog November through February on a graph. Can we see the same cleft or some degree of attenuation?  Answer:  Look at the charts for the smaller quakes during this period of time in the various tectonic zones.  There is less and less attenuation of the activity as you go down in magnitude.

(2)  There is a clear long term trend of a manyfold increase.  What is this trend? 

(3)  The trend of acceleration in quake activity appears to have an undulation.  What is causing this?

(4)  Clearly there is a monthly cycle.  There is a very clear rise and fall of seismic activity in approximately a monthly scale.  This points us clearly to the Moon as a primary "influencer" of quakes, or at least of the "timing" of tectonic activity.  Can other correlations be found to other causes?  How do the larger spikes in activity correspond with the complex Lunar Cycles?

(5) Have Fourier Transforms been done on this data to mathematically define cycles in this quake activity?  Good question. I have never felt competent  to run such formulas.  I can't find a way to jigger Excel into doing it.  Perhaps someone can.

(6)  Most importantly, where are most of these quakes occurring?  Where is there the least amount of activity? What is changing where and how fast?

(7)  Does this describe key turning points in the trend:

There is a definite structural change in the trend line which numbers do not bring into our perception very well, this finding is subtle but definite for most areas:

  1. 1973-1982, the trend line for quakes is nearly an "average" constant

  2. 1983-1994. the trend plateaus into  a higher rate.

  3. 1995-1999 the trend jumps into a yet higher plateau

  4. 2000 onwards, a progressive acceleration steps up again.

As can be seen in these graphs, if we average the daily counts year by year and draw the trend and then add an exponential growth curve from 1992, we can predict that average quake activity Class 4+, could DOUBLE in as little as 16 years to reach 80 per day by 2022.  That's an EIGHTFOLD gain since 1973. Most of the increase in this activity is on Eurasia, its eastern edges, or on the northern edge of the Australian Plate.  There is very little increase in North America.

NOTICE ALSO THAT THE CLEFT IN THE TRENDLINE coincided with a period of nearly 60 days when the Wobble essentially stopped in a "cartoid" moment (the end point of an inwardly compressing spiral motion).  This period occurred during one of the smallest possible Perigee and Apogee cycles (when the monthly Lunar gravitational flux (deviation from average) was the smallest).  It also occurred precisely during the Perihelion of the Earth, the moment in the annula orbit when the Earth is closest to the Sun (first week in January).  Does this tell us anything about the dynamics of Earth's tectonic processes?.

Answers to these questions appear scattered the length and breadth of the Earthquake Storyboard and the Earth Changes Gallery.   The giant scrolling charts is fun, and the Storyboard has many versions of that chart to answer these questions and correlate how quake activity works with other phenomenon to produce the "whole working Earth" we know. 

The next set of charts below will help answer the first question.  We need a higher perspective to catch the trend action in just one field of vision.  This will allow us to read off the growth rates without having to result to statistical formulas.

Here they are. 

World Earthquake Activity Magnitude 2.5+ 1973-1998
portrait print gif by MWM
model source: neicpde catalog yearly 2.5 plus; worldtotalcount.xls by MWM

The first chart was made in 1999 for the first edition of the Return of the Phoenix.  The chart demonstrated the total number of earthquakes for each year recorded in the USGS databases of magnitude 2.5 or greater.  As can be seen, there was a clear threefold trend of acceleration in earthquake activity for the 1973 to 1998 period.

World Earthquake Activity Magnitude 2.5+ 1973-2004
portrait print gif by MWM
model source: neicpde catalog yearly 2.5 plus; worldtotalcount.xls by MWM

This second  chart of the Global Trend was made in 2005  as part of the effort to update the Return of the Phoenix for the "Revised Edition of 2008".

The Question was:  does the trend observed in 1999 continue?

Not much needs to be said.  The trend line is pretty unambigious.  This chart suggest shows about a fivefold increase in quake frequency between 1973 to 2004.

 
World Quakes 4+ Average Daily Frequency 1973-2007
portrait by MWM
quakes_world4+_annual_dailyave_1973-2007.gif
model source:  ANSS Composite Database; world_quake_summary.xls by MWM
 
This third chart updates the update and also raises the bar on quake activity to eliminate the possible problem of "report inflation" from the increase in the number of seismic stations around the world during the last few decades of the 20th century.  Thus the final update chart looks only at quakes of Magnitude 4 or greater and counts them day by day to derive daily averages for each year.
 
 
 
 
Same basic trend, but a little less steep is the rise.  We can see quite clearly that average daily quakes 4+ rose from about 11 per day in 1973 to 41 in 2005, and is currently recessing somewhat down to an average daily of about 35 as of May 19, 2007.  Once again we find a firm trend which is remarkably constant and appears to be a little greater than threefold.
 
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT 2007 FOR THIS CHART AND ALL THE REMAINING DOZENS OF CHARTS IN THE EARTHQUAKE STORYBOARD WHICH HAVE 2007 IN THEM:  The 2007 numbers should be disregarded during 2007 because the numbers for it are based on projections from the averaged activity during the first five or six months of the year.  This is reasonably reasonable but it suffers from a built-in source of error.  Earthquake activity definitely has "seasons", most especially in Magnitude Classes 2 though 5.  Some portions of some years are more active than others, thus a daily average for the year only becomes a valid and  truly useful number after the year is over.  The cut-off in the model space behind this and all the other charts in the Quake Storyboard, was May 20, 2007 (unless otherwise indicated).  The average number for 2007 only shows us how the first few months of 2007 compare with previous periods.  More probable than not, based on many factors which are best explained elsewhere, the average for 2007 will end up higher than shown on these charts but it probably will be lower than the peak shown for 2005/06.

World Quakes 6+ Average Daily Frequency 1973-2007
portrait by MWM
quakes_world6+_annual_dailyave_1973-2007.gif
model source:  ANSS Composite Database; world_quake_summary.xls by MWM

Let's get even more selective and look at only the BIG ones.  The Class 6 quakes are considered Major Quakes because they can be very destructive to human habitats, the Class 7 Quakes are clearly Mega Quakes which change the landforms of an area, and the Class 8 and 9 quakes are much more than earthquakes, they are Major Tectonic Events and signal very significant motion and changes in one or two of Earth's tectonic plate which can be measured even thousands of miles from the epicenter of the actual earthquake.

This is where a trend of acceleration of activity begins to have very important meaning. Do we have a trend in this magnitude of activity?  USGS NEIC (National Earthquake Information Center) says no.  What do you say?

This trend chart is so excellent because it clearly really is a trend chart which is valid through its entire displayed range.  We begin in 1973 with a 6+ (6.0 to 9.9) quake occurring about every four days, or 0.26 quakes per day. For about 16 years the chart shows a trend of declining frequency during a period of intensive spread of seismological monitoring for the detection of nuclear explosions.  Certainly no "report inflation" here.   This has got to be the really real stuff, unless crooked bureaucrats and evil scientists are manipulating the data and withholding records of 6.0 quakes for dastardly purposes. (Just kidding, just kidding to make the point).

From 1989, at very nearly the same turning point we will notice in many other charts, we see a dramatic rise during the early 1990's, a partial retreat, and then a continuing progressive average climb punctuated by peaks of increased activity about every  4 to 5 years, very similar to the frequency which we can see throughout the entire chart.  Here we find not quite a doubling of activity.  From one 6+ quake every fours days in 1973, we find one almost every 2 days during 2006.

Observe as well that for 2007, there was a significant quake increase for Class 6 and greater quakes and a decline in Class 4 and greater quakes.  These numbers make it very doubtful that there is any "report inflation" going on in the Class 4 category.  A short term year-to-year "deflation" is a better word.

World Quakes 4+ Growth Trend  1973-2027
portrait by MWM
quakes_ex_trend_world4+_1973-2006.gif
model source:  ANSS Composite Database; world_quake_summary.xls by MWM

What happens if we use statistic formulas to define and project the  natural acceleration curve of earthquake activity from 1973 to 2007 as an exponential growth curve?  Well, the following graph is one.

If we define the growth curve from 1973, and the current real acceleration continues, quake activity experienced by humans will at least double by 2027.  This growth curve is of far greater significance than the projected growth in carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere.

World Quakes 4+ Growth Trend  1992-2027
portrait by MWM
quakes_ex_trend_world4+_1992-2006.gif
model source:  ANSS Composite Database; world_quake_summary.xls by MWM

What happens if we base the projection of the growth curve from 1992?  We double the earthquakes during the next 13 years, with 70 quakes per day in 202o on average.

 
Which of the two growth curves is more likely?  Frankly I have not a clue.  And I doubt that anyone can answer this question scientifically.  We simply do not have databases which are reliable enough through a long enough period of time and geological fluctuation to have reliable ideas on this topic.  We are, literally, flying blind here.

World Quakes 6+ Growth Trend  1973-2027
portrait by MWM
quakes_exp_growth_world6+_1973-2006.gif
model source:  ANSS Composite Database; world_quake_summary.xls by MWM

What happens if we get far more selective and deal only with the destructive range of earthquakes, beginning for the 6+ quakes which can flatten older masonry buildings throughout much of the world?

As of 2007, we have reached a frequency of nearly one every other day.  If the growth curve continues, we will have a major destructive earthquake every day in 2047.  Fortunately, this does not mean we will have destructive quakes in human cities every day.  The great majority of destructive tectonic activity strikes far enough from cities to cause relatively little impact on humans. 

But, these numbers DO mean that the odds of destruction in major cities IS rising.  This seemingly slow trend should cause serious caution, especially in active earthquake zones.  Reflect on the major episodes of the 2004-2006 period, during which several quakes caused severe damage in Southeast Asia, flattened cities in Iran, and left hundreds of thousands homeless in the Himalayas.  Consider the possibility that this activity in on an upward trend and could effectively double in frequency during the next 40 years.

Parallels Between World Quakes 4+, Lunar Declination, & Size Of Earth's Wobble
portrait by MWM
model source:  ANSS Composite Catalog; world_quake_summary.xls by MWM
quakes4+_compare_trends_tot_world_1973-2007
 

There is no observable correlation between World Quakes 4+ and the Saros Cycle, which measures variations in the tilt of the Moon's Orbit.  The Saros cycle is shown by the black line which swings up and down through an 18 year cycle between extremes of 18 degrees and 28 degrees.  The quake trend is moving with no apparent connection with the extremes in the Moon's orbital tilt.

There is a small degree of correlation shown between average quake activity and the size of the Earth's Wobble. Most valleys in the waveform  (the blue line which defines the seven year variation in the size of the Earth's Wobble) are accompanied (fairly closely) by a small downturn in average daily quake activity

Notice that this behavior begins to shift in 1999 (quake activity increases regardless of the Wobble MIN)  and then the parallel "blows" apart 180 degrees in phase during 2005/2006 during the MIN period of the Wobble's Cartoid Moment.  Yet, as could be expected if one looks backward during the past 34 years, a downturn begins to appear during 2006.

Parallels Between World Quakes 6+, Lunar Declination, & Size Of Earth's Wobble
portrait by MWM
model source:  ANSS Composite Catalog; world_quake_summary.xls by MWM
quakes6+_compare_trends_tot_world_1973-2007

Can we scale down the quake data base and find if there are better or worse parallels with different magnitude classes?  We can and there are differences, though at this time in mid 2007 the Storyboard only scratches the surface.

This chart for 6+ quakes establishes fairly clearly that there are few if any correlations with Lunar Declination and the size of Earth's Wobble.  Certainly nothing leaps out of this chart.  Every Wobble seven year cycle seems to create a different response, we are apparently looking at a random set here.

Notice that the peaks during 1996 are nearly similar for both the 4+ and 6+ quakes.  But the trend lines in years 2005 and 2006 are completely different in both charts, giving the impression of something like an 180 degree phase differential.  There are other points of similarity between the two charts, but the strong dissimilarities destroy any sense that the activity parallels in a direct, positive fashion.  There may be a negative correlation (one increases while the other decreases) and this should be seriously analyzed.  It flies in the face of our most obvious ways of thinking but a great deal might be learned here.

As with Class 4+ quakes, the period from about 1998 is anomalous with the period of approximately 1973-1997.

Where Next?

Take a look at quake activity in the Major Tectonic Zones.  There are some real differences between the different regions of the world.  And, not the least, some very interesting correlations with the cosmic environment begin to emerge.

 

 

 

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