Angry ‘Ring of Fire’ sets off series of earthquakes around the Pacific

An angry 'Ring of Fire' has been setting off quite a few earthquakes around the Pacific Ocean over the past day, and it seems to be concentrating its ire on just a few specific areas.

There have been over 300 earthquakes around the edges of the Pacific Ring of Fire over the past day — the Ring of Fire being the 40,000-km-long, vaguely horseshoe-shaped region around the eastern, northern and western sides of the Pacific Ocean where numerous earthquakes happen ever day — with a little over 70 that were strong enough to be felt. This isn't really strange overall, as that represents a fairly average day according to the U.S. Geological Survey earthquakes website, but what is a little usual about it is that, instead of being spread out a bit more around the 'ring', over three-fourths of them, including several of the strongest, are clustered in just three areas.

[ Related: Two earthquakes shake southern Ontario, Quebec, U.S. ]

It started yesterday afternoon, at 1:19 p.m. Eastern Time, when a magnitude 7.4 quake struck southwest of the island of Tonga, in the South Pacific, which was followed up by three significant aftershocks of magnitude 6.5 down to 5.0, and then another 5.8 aftershock this morning. Despite the power of the quake, it was likely only lightly felt in nearby Tonga, and perhaps in Fiji, and no tsunami warnings were issued.

Then, last night at around 11:47 p.m. Eastern Time, residents around Greenville, California had a rude shock when a magnitude 5.7 quake rattled the area. There were no damages or injuries reported, but the quake has been followed by nearly 50 aftershocks since then — most fairly light, but one early this morning registered as magnitude 4.9 — and the aftershocks are continuing into this afternoon.

The strongest of these earthquakes took place at around 1:45 a.m. Eastern Time, when a powerful magnitude 8.3 quake struck under the Sea of Okhotsk, off the coast of eastern Russia. The quake was very deep in the earth's crust, about 600 kms down, so it was only felt lightly in nearby communities and it didn't touch off any tsunami warnings. However, it now ranks as the strongest earthquake so far this year, and it could be the strongest earthquake ever recorded at that depth below the ground — beating out the magnitude 8.2 quake on June 9, 1994, in Bolivia, that was at a depth of 647 km.

Is this significant? Should we be worried about a 'Big One' happening soon?

Anyone living in earthquake-prone areas should be prepared with a plan and probably disaster supplies, but just because an earthquake happens in an area doesn't mean another one will happen there, or further along the same fault line, or even around the same tectonic plate. In some cases, small tremors have happened before a larger quake, but that's never been a reliable way of predicting them, as smaller quakes happen all the time. Aftershocks are, of course, common after an earthquake, but even those can't be accurately predicted.

Although there is research being put into forecasting earthquakes (such as the hints that the behaviour of ants might indicate when one may be about to strike), the science just isn't there yet. Most earthquake prediction now simply uses 'risk levels', which basically state the chance an area has to experience one, based on what has happened in the area in the past.

[ More Geekquinox: Forecasters warn of ‘extremely active’ hurricane season ]

Comparing what we've had so far this year to what happened by this time last year... although we're running behind in the total number of significant (5.0+) earthquakes (592 this year, compared to 779 last year), we've already beaten last year's total for quakes of magnitude 6.0 or stronger (70 this year, compared to 65 last year). Also, although less than 1% of the quakes felt in most years are the more powerful ones (magnitude 7.0+), so far for 2013, we're running at over 1.5%.

So, we're definitely seeing a higher proportion of stronger quakes this year, and sadly we've had more than double the number of fatalities from earthquakes so far as well (293 this year so far, compared to 140 by this time last year).

Whether or not that will be balanced out by the rest of the year being more sedate is yet to be seen, though.

Geek out with the latest in science and weather.
Follow @ygeekquinox on Twitter!

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Halt Indonesia drug executions until graft claims probed: Australia
    Halt Indonesia drug executions until graft claims probed: Australia

    Australia urged Indonesia Monday to delay the execution of two men for drug offences until a corruption probe into their case is complete, after a report that judges sought tens of thousands of dollars in bribes. "Bali Nine" drug traffickers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan could face the firing squad within days, along with others from Brazil, Nigeria, the Philippines and an Indonesian prisoner. "I should point out that Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran's lawyers are pursuing action before the …

  • Pacquiao pleads for Indonesia to spare death row Filipina
    Pacquiao pleads for Indonesia to spare death row Filipina

    World boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao took time out Monday from final preparations for his $400 million megafight with Floyd Mayweather to plead for the life of a Filipina on death row in Indonesia. Pacquiao, a national hero in the Philippines, added his voice to a chorus of global opposition led by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the executions of a group of eight foreign drug convicts, including compatriot Mary Jane Veloso. The eight-division world champion, who will face …

  • FordPH Launches the All-New Mustang
    FordPH Launches the All-New Mustang

    Ford Philippines launched the all-new Mustang in a rock concert held at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, last week .  The All-New Mustang is the sixth generation since Ford  launched the first model in April 17, 1964. “The all-new Mustang represents the very best of Ford and its arrival marks the latest chapter of the iconic muscle car’s rich legacy, crafted with a more contemporary look and feel.  With a history spanning more than 50 years, this iconic car is at the heart and soul of Ford and …

  • China maritime tensions dominate Southeast Asia summit
    China maritime tensions dominate Southeast Asia summit

    By Manuel Mogato and Praveen Menon KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Southeast Asian leaders edged closer to open criticism of China's land reclamation in the disputed South China Sea at a regional summit on Monday, as the Philippines drew the ire of Beijing which called its objections to the work "unreasonable". The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Kuala Lumpur, which was supposed to showcase the 10-member bloc's progress towards economic integration, was overshadowed by the …

  • The ‘All You Need’ 2015 Isuzu D-MAX launched
    The ‘All You Need’ 2015 Isuzu D-MAX launched

    Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) just recently introduced the 2015 Isuzu D-MAX pick-up truck at the Clark International Raceway to show that their pick-up model can conquer any kind of terrain.The high-end LS variant and standard LT 4x4 is now equipped with a more powerful engine, the 4JK1-TC (Hi) 2.5-liter engine which with Common Rail Direct Injection and an intercooled Variable Geometry System (VGS) turbocharger. IPC also introduced a new standard ride variant, the LT-X 4x2 manual …

  • Limited Edition Honda CR-V and Jazz now available
    Limited Edition Honda CR-V and Jazz now available

    If you’ve always wanted to be part of an exclusive group of car owners, now might be the time for you to consider getting a Honda CR-V or Jazz.  Honda Cars Philippines Inc. (HCPI) just came out with their limited edition All New Jazz and New CR-V. …

  • ToyotaPH hit its highest monthly sales last March
    ToyotaPH hit its highest monthly sales last March

    Toyota Motors Philippines hit its highest monthly sales to date last March, registering 10,237 units sold.  This recent CAMPI report puts Toyota’s market share at 43.5% last month. …

  • VolkswagenPH launches Child Safety Initiative
    VolkswagenPH launches Child Safety Initiative

    Volkswagen Philippines just  launched the VW Child Safety Initiative (CSI) campaign which aims to support child safety on Philippine roads at the just concluded Manila International Auto Show (MIAS). The World Health Organization’s road safety facts show about 1.24 million die each year globally as a result of vehicle related accidents. Child restraint systems like child seats and booster seats also reduce risk for children by about 70% for infants and upto 80% for small children. This …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options