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2010 Earthquake Summary

December 20, 2010, by Ken Jorgustin



The Pacific Ring of Fire wins the prize for the most earthquakes during 2010. No doubt it is always the hot spot each year for activity.

In the world during 2010, there were 2,103 earthquakes of magnitude 5.0 and greater.

  • magnitude 5 range (1,930), 46 percent more than 100 year average
  • magnitude 6 range (151), 13 percent more than 100 year average
  • magnitude 7 range (21), 40 percent more than 100 year average
  • magnitude 8 range (1), exactly average




The largest earthquake of the year was a magnitude 8.8 located in Chile, South America.

The deadliest earthquake of the year was a magnitude 7.0 that killed more than 200,000 people in Haiti.

There were 226,895 deaths from earthquakes during 2010, one of the deadliest years on record.

The highest increase in the number of earthquakes of 10 and 100 year averages was in the magnitude 5 range (plus 43 percent), mainly as a result of aftershocks associated with the magnitude 7 range earthquakes. There were 40 percent more magnitude 7 earthquakes during 2010 than the last 100 year average, and 60 percent more than the last 10 year average (USGS statistics).

The most concentrated location of earthquakes and the shakiest place in the continental United States during 2010 was in southern California just north of the Mexican border near the tiny town of Coyote Wells, about 70 miles east of San Diego and 25 miles west of the Pacific Plate tectonic boundary. Although most were relatively small in magnitude, approximately 600 earthquakes, many hundreds more some spilling into Mexico rattled there during 2010.


An incredible number of earthquakes (about 3,000) and earthquake swarms rattled along the Aleutian islands of Alaska (a chain of volcanoes), located along the northern Pacific Plate boundary. Nearly 1,500 of those earthquakes shook in one concentrated area about two-thirds the way down the chain, just off the tip of a tiny island named Samalga island. This location is by far the largest concentration of earthquakes on the planet during 2010.


About 135 earthquakes rumbled in Oklahoma, most of which were located just a few miles outside of Oklahoma City, near no apparent fault lines. One earthquake there was the second largest ever recorded in Oklahoma.

The most powerful earthquake in the United States during 2010 was a magnitude 6.5 which shook just off the northern California coast near Fortuna and Eureka, at the Pacific Plate boundary.

The most powerful earthquake in Europe occurred near Granada, Spain, a magnitude 6.0.

The European country with the most earthquakes was Greece, and just off its shores (about 50).

Very active regions always include the island chains of Indonesia, up to the Philippines, over to Papua New Guinea, and down the countless number of island chains of the South Pacific Ocean, again at the Pacific Plate boundary (about 3,000 total earthquakes).

The following image is an animation of world earthquakes of magnitude 5.0 and greater during 2010, differentiating those from magnitude range 5, 6, 7, and 8.


To summarize, the totals of all of the earthquake magnitude ranges from 5 on up, were way above average during the first three-quarters of the year. The last quarter has been somewhat slow and has lowered the average slightly closer to normal (magnitude 7 range is still quite high), while all categories (5 and up) remain above normal. It was a very active year.

Update, 21-Dec-2010, I will keep this up to date through the end of the year as new USGS statistics are updated. We just had a magnitude 7.4 earthquake off the coast of Japan, which brings that range total to 20. The very numerous aftershocks, many of them in the 5 range, will be added soon. This will surely change the higher percentage outcome.

Update, 25-Dec-2010, A magnitude 7.6 rocked the South Pacific today and is being followed my 5-range Aftershocks. It is incredible how two mag 7’s have knocked off just during the last 4 days! The mag 7 range is now sitting approximately 40 percent higher than the 100 year average, 60 percent higher than the 10 year average.

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