Series of quakes have many asking questions

Published On: Apr 02 2014 11:07:18 AM EDT
Updated On: Apr 02 2014 09:40:00 AM EDT

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the 6.9-magnitude earthquake that hit San Francisco during the 1989 World Series. More than three dozen peopled were killed, and nearly 4,000 more injured. Here's a look at the world's 10 largest earthquakes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Is it the birthing pangs of a Biblical reference or a coincidental act of nature? Faults are rupturing everywhere as of late which, has left many asking if the "Big One" is next.

What makes the latest series of Earthquakes unique are the locations in which they rupture. A series of quakes including several above a 4.0 have rattled the nerves of those living in Los Angeles the last few weeks.

That area has not seen a damaging earthquake since the 1994 Northridge quake which registered a 6.7 magnitude and caused $25 billion in damage.

The first 'sizable' quake that was felt area wide occurred on March 17th. Being of a shallow nature, the shaking was felt over a wide area; even interrupting the local news affiliates during their live broadcasts. 

The second, more powerful quake hit March 29th and registered a magnitude 5.1. This tremor caused gas and water lines to break along with rock slides near the epicenter. This quake, like the previous, was shallow which amplified the severity of the shaking.

Wednesday, an incredibly strong 8.2 magnitude quake hit off the coast of Chile which triggered a small tsunami and even prompted tsunami advisories for Hawaii. But that's not all. A 7.2 aftershock rocked Chile late Wednesday night prompting a tsunami warning which was later cancelled.

On a related but slightly different topic, earthquake activity at Yellowstone National Park, a behemoth volcano [Caldera] that literally harnesses the power to wipe out the United States and severely alter world climate, has seen had a number of tremors as well but likely related to the southern California quakes. It can also signal magma moving under the ground.

Video recently surfaced of animals, namely Bison, fleeing the area of Yellowstone in what appeared to be mass panic. While scientists say that there are no imminent signs that the super-volcano is about to blow, it does raise an eyebrow as to why animals seem to be fleeing the area. Do they sense something we can't yet?

The volcano has had a history of eruptions. The volcano erupted approximately 2.1 million years ago and again about 1.3 million years ago. Scientists say the volcano on average erupts every 640,000 years. That means one thing: we're long overdue and an increase in seismic activity is a sure sign that a volcano is rumbling to life. Same held true in 1980 with Mount St. Helens.

Back to quakes. The recent activity is interesting but not unusual. These quakes are firing along the Pacific "Ring of Fire." Along the Pacific rim is where many of the wold's continental shelves bump together. When these plates (plate tectonics) get locked together, pressure builds up. When the pressure becomes too great, the faults rupture and the plates snap into a new position. This sends pulses through the ground known as earthquakes. 

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