I have to confess something. I check the usgs website at:
about 20 times every day, and have done so for years. I check this website every time I go online, and every time before I go offline (and sometimes a few times between then). If I have several windows open, one of them will always be this website. I usually know about significant earthquakes a few minutes before they are on cable news.
The Sendai earthquake, for example, was originally reported as a pair of back to back 7.9 earthquakes. This then changed to the 8.9 rating. As soon as the magnitude was upgraded, I was off to purchase gas and ice (before the news hit).
Anyway, please see this map and list of the largest earthquakes in the world since 1900 (that's 111 years ago):
The list is below the map. Two things jump out to me.
First, five (5) of the top 15 earthquakes since 1900 have taken place in the last seven (7) years. In other words, thirty-three percent (33%) of these earthquakes have taken place in just over 6 percent (6%) of the time. What's up with that?
Second, look at the map. Major earthquakes generally occur on the Pacific ring of fire. Look at numbers 2 and 7 on the map. Number 2 was in Alaska (a 9.2 earthquake in 1964). Number 7 was in off the coast of Ecuador (an 8.8 in 1906). Now look at what is between those two numbers/locations. None of the major earthquakes since 1900 have taken place in the stretch of land that includes Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Central America. Australia has been spared as well, as has Hawaii.
No one knows what the future holds, but I think that we should all do our best to be prepared for natural disasters. If one occurred in your area, how long do you think it would take for basic services to be restored? Even if your home is spared, how long are your prepared to take care of yourself and your family? Do you have the necessary provisions?
While I was writing this, there were two more earthquakes in Japan (4.8, and 4.9), and one in Russia too (5.1). I just checked.
Again, our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Japan.
Charles C. Goodin