Earthquakes - 2001-2015

©NOAA

Earthquake

This animation shows every recorded earthquake in sequence as they occurred from January 1, 2001, through December 31, 2015, at a rate of 30 days per second.

The earthquake hypocenters first appear as flashes then remain as colored circles before shrinking with time so as not to obscure subsequent earthquakes. The size of the circle represents the earthquake magnitude while the color represents its depth within the earth. At the end of the animation it will first show all quakes in this 15-year period.

Next, it will show only those earthquakes greater than magnitude 6.5, the smallest earthquake size known to make a tsunami. Finally it will only show those earthquakes with magnitudes of magnitude 8.0 or larger, the "great" earthquakes most likely to pose a tsunami threat when they occur under the ocean or near a coastline and when they are shallow within the earth (less than 100 km or 60 mi. deep).

This time period includes some remarkable events. Several large earthquakes caused devastating tsunamis, including 9.1 magnitude in Sumatra (26 December 2004), 8.1 magnitude in Samoa (29 September 2009), 8.8 magnitude in Chile (27 February 2010), and 9.0 magnitude off of Japan (11 March 2011). Like most earthquakes these events occurred at plate boundaries, and truly large events like these tend to occur at subduction zones where tectonic plates collide. Other, much smaller earthquakes also occur away from plate boundaries such as those related to volcanic activity in Hawaii or those related to wastewater injection wells in Oklahoma.

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