It might seem like there is a lot of activity this year (which there is) but this is not the only year that volcanic and earthquake activity has been high. It all has to do with the movement of tectonic plates and volcanic and earthquake activity are both related/ caused by tectonic movement. Heat from the earth’s core causes layers in the mantle to move underneath the crust. It might just be that there is more heat activity this year. It is normal. Keep in mind that this kind of activity has been happening for millions of years. It is newer to us, not the earth.
It certainly does seem as though there are way more notable earthquakes and other seismic activities (like volcanoes) recently than in previous decades. However, this perception is actually somewhat inaccurate. First, to gain an understanding of how many earthquakes have occurred in the past decade as related to other decades, I recommend reading the first blog post below. In short, it seems as though we have actually been having similar numbers of earthquakes for a long time.
But why does it seem like there are so many earthquakes and volcanoes? The first reason is that science has advanced to the point where we can record and pinpoint earthquakes that most of the scientific world wouldn’t have noticed, so there’s just more data to choose from. There are 4,000 earthquake-reporting stations in the world right now, as opposed to 350 in 1931. Secondly, the news media are becoming more and more pervasive. Thirty years ago, it could have been very unlikely for the Chilean and Haitian earthquakes to get the coverage they did this year. We have 24-hour news networks, internet news, news on our cell phones and iPods. The media can get places they couldn’t get before, and people’s perspectives are simply getting more global. Similarly, as people move into more areas of the world, more human lives are affected by seismic activity. Larger numbers of people die, are injured, or become displaced by earthquakes and volcanoes now than ever before.
Lastly, it is true that earthquakes occur in clusters. Many earthquakes (and sometimes volcanic eruptions) will happen near each other, and this is a common phenomenon. But the number of earthquakes annually stays pretty constant.
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