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China’s tragic magnitude 6.9 earthquake on April 13 and the recent devastating earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Mexico, and elsewhere have many wondering if this earthquake activity is unusual.
Scientists say 2010 is not showing signs of unusually high earthquake activity. Since 1900, an average of 16 magnitude 7 or greater earthquakes — the size that seismologists define as major — have occurred worldwide each year.
Some years have had as few as 6, as in 1986 and 1989, while 1943 had 32, with considerable variability from year to year.
“While the number of earthquakes is within the normal range, this does not diminish the fact that there has been extreme devastation and loss of life in heavily populated areas,” said USGS Associate Coordinator for Earthquake Hazards Dr. Michael Blanpied.