Earthquake Prediction: Half of the Monster Earthquakes are Missing From Records

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Everybody remembers the deadly Sri Lanka (2004), Chile’s (2010), Haiti (2010) and Japan (2011) earthquakes. Well, a new investigation suggests that only half of all quakes measuring more than 8.5 in magnitude that hit in the 19th Century are recorded. Finding these lost earthquakes is vital to help scientists assess where and when these deadly events could strike next.

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World map of earthquake over 100 years. Photo: John Nelson, IDV Solutions

It seems impossible… But the Earth may have been struck by many more huge earthquakes in its recent history than was previously thought. On a statistical case, there are too few large natural disaster (earthquake) records before the 20th Century. Scientists are now scanning historical documents for the lost tremors.

People shouldn’t be surprised that an earthquake happened in Sri Lanka (2004), Chile’s (2010), Haiti (2010) and Japan (2011), as there were very similar earthquakes in the 18th Century at these same spots.

The findings are presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall meeting in San Francisco. [BBC]

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