The past few weeks have seen an influx of seismic activity along the Pacific Ring of Fire. Volcanic eruptions have been recorded in both Japan and the Philippines, while a massive earthquake struck in the Gulf of Alaska. While earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are common occurrences around the world, the recent spike activity at the beginning of this year has many people concerned that a major seismic shift is underfoot. If a massive earthquake of a magnitude 8 or higher were to occur, it could not only cost lives and damage infrastructure but change the shape of continents as well. Here’s all the seismic activity that’s been taking place over the past several weeks, and ways to survive them.
THE PACIFIC RING OF FIRE
Spanning 40,000 km (24,854 mi.) from Indonesia to Chile, the Pacific Ring of Fire is a major area surrounding the Pacific Ocean. This ring houses some of the world’s most active volcanoes as well as fault lines that contribute to earthquakes. While some have voiced concern that the Pacific Ring of Fire has shown an increase in activity, most researchers believe the recent spate of activity is within the ‘normal,’ range.
Studies show that 90% of the world’s earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire. In contrast, the Alpide Belt, which spans from Java to the Atlantic Ocean, only produces 5-6% of the world’s largest earthquakes.
GULF OF ALASKA
A massive magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck off the coast of Alaska earlier this month, triggering mass tremors and shocks along the Pacific Ring of Fire. Some predict this earthquake is an indicator that a massive seismic shift will occur along the western coast of the United States in the near future. While the Ring of Fire has seen an uptick in seismic activity in the past few weeks, it’s impossible to determine if or when the “Big One” might strike.
Since the 7.9 quake occurred, more than 80 earthquakes have struck the Gulf of Alaska.
GULF OF CALIFORNIA
California’s coast lies directly along the Pacific Ring of Fire and thus is prone to earthquakes, both large and small. On January 19, the Gulf of California experienced a 6.3 magnitude quake around 4 p.m. A few days later on January 26, a slew of quakes shook the region, with aftershocks measuring around the same magnitude as the initial quake. The first quake measured at a 5.8 magnitude and was shortly followed by a 5.1 aftershock. A tsunami warning was issued, however, both the quake and the shock caused little to no damage as the epicenter was located nearly 100 miles off the coast.
Both of these quakes followed another 4.1 quake that took place in Trabuco Canyon and was felt in areas such as San Diego and Los Angeles. With so many quakes in such little time, many have feared that the “Big One,” could be any day now. For years scientists and residents have predicted that an earthquake with a magnitude of 8 or greater could possibly rip through the San Andreas Fault and tear California away from the rest of North America.
A 6.2 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan just north-east of the island of Honshu. This was the third earthquake to take place in two days along the Pacific Ring of Fire. Additionally, two volcanoes erupted near the region within a 24-hour time frame. People from the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido reportedly felt the effects of the earthquake. Very minimal damage was reported, and there were no casualties.
During the afternoon hours of January 23, 2018, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4 struck Java, Indonesia at 1:34 pm. The damage done by the earthquake was considerable, 311 homes were damaged and 64 were completely destroyed. The earthquake was felt as far away as Jakarta nearly 100 miles away. The earthquake –while large—was not strong enough to generate any tsunami waves, and there were no casualties reported.
COAST OF SOUTHERN PERU
A 7.1 magnitude earthquake killed two people in southern Peru on January 14 of this year. An additional 65 other people were injured during the quake. The earthquake struck at 4 a.m. local time and was centered near the coast of Peru 25 miles away from the city of Acari. No tsunami threat was issued although some roads in the region were severely damaged.
The massive earthquake that ripped through Honduras on January 10, was so large homes in Cancun, Mexico were shaking. Tsunami warnings were made for areas along the coast of Mexico, Honduras, Puerto Rico, and the British and US Virgin Islands. The quake was reported as lasting only a few seconds, however, the impact of the quake was “violent.”
HOW TO SURVIVE AN EARTHQUAKE
Earthquakes are unpredictable. Earth science is not evolved enough to accurately predict when and where an earthquake will occur. Thus it’s important to have a few tips in mind, in the event an earthquake strikes in your region.
A good rule of thumb when living in an earthquake-prone region is to be prepared before the earthquake occurs. Be sure to secure items that may fall, move, or cause injury during a quake. Items such as bookshelves, light fixtures, televisions, etc., should be safely secured to avoid injury.
Be sure to practice the following method during an earthquake.
Drop- Drop down to your hands and knees. This way the earthquake will not knock you down and possibly injure you.
Cover- Using your hands and arms cover your neck and head to protect yourself from any falling debris.
Hold-on- If you have a something sturdy, hold on to it for cover.
Remember to stay-put during an earthquake and all the shaking has subsided. It is not safe to stand in a doorway. If you are inside, do not run outside. If you are outside, avoid building, streetlights, trees, or anything that could possibly fall over and harm you. Practice the drop, cover, and hold-on technique, so that there is no hesitation when an earthquake occurs.