The National Earthquake Information Center in the US tracks about 20,000 earthquakes every single year, adding up to about 55 quakes per day. Although most earthquakes go unnoticed, the US Geological Survey (USGS) expects about 16 major earthquakes to erupt each year.
Of the 16 major tremors, at least 15 are expected to reach the magnitude 7 range and at least one threatens to be magnitude 8 or higher.
The USGS said: “The year with the largest total was 2010, with 24 earthquakes greater than or equal to magnitude 7.
“In other years the total was well below the 16 per year expected based on the long-term average: 1989 only saw six, while 1988 saw only seven major earthquakes.”
Below are three powerful tremors that erupted in past years on January 16.
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Kobe, Japan – Magnitude 6.9 earthquake – 1995
Exactly 25 years ago on January 16, 1995, one of Japan’s deadliest earthquakes struck in the Kobe area and Awaji Island.
The magnitude 6.9 disaster hit around 8.46pm UTC and has since been dubbed The Great Hanshin earthquake.
The earthquake is estimated to have killed between 5,502 and 6,434 people, causing widespread damage along the southern coast of Honshu Island between Kobe and Nishinomiya.
According to the USGS, 310,000 people were forced to seek refuge in temporary shelters.
In Nishinomiya, at least 28 people were killed when the tremors triggered landslides.
The year with the largest total was 2010
US Geological Survey (USGS)
On top of power outages near the epicentre, the earthquake started fires and damaged or destroyed more than 200,000 buildings.
The USGS said: “Right-lateral surface faulting was observed for nine kilometres (5.5 miles) with horizontal displacement of 1.2 to 1.5 meters in the northern part of Awaji-shima.
“Liquefaction also occurred in the epicentral area.”
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Pennsylvania, US – Magnitude 4.6 earthquake – 1994
On January 16, 1994, a magnitude 4.6 earthquake struck the US state of Pennsylvania.
According to the USGS, the tremor left “some damage in the Reading area”.
The earthquake was felt throughout southeastern Pennsylvania, going as far as Baltimore, Maryland and New York City.
The earthquake was even felt further up north over the Canadian border in Toronto, Canada.
The magnitude 4.6 earthquake remains the strongest ever felt in the state.
Iran – Magnitude 6.9 earthquake – 1979
At least 200 people were killed on January 16, 1979, when a magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit eastern Iran.
According to the USGS, the earthquake caused “considerable damage” in Bonzonabad and surrounding areas.
The earthquake was followed a month later by a magnitude 5.6 tremors on November 14, 1979.
The second earthquake killed at least 385 people in Khorasan province.
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