Have Great Earthquakes Increased Since 1900?

Great earthquakes receive a lot of media attention these days. Great earthquakes do not need to occur near land to earn a breaking news banner on major news websites. The widespread attention great earthquake reports receive in the media leads to the question: “Are great earthquakes becoming more common these days?” I will address this question by examining trends in 8.0 and greater earthquake activity since 1900 in this article.

Why Care about Great Earthquakes?

Why should we care about great earthquake activity? Luke 21:11 suggests that we will hear about great earthquakes-rather than regular earthquakes-in diverse places prior to the Second Coming of Christ.

And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.” (Luke 21:11)

I utilized two data sources to account for the magnitude 8.0 and greater earthquakes that have taken place since 1900.

  • The U.S. Geological Survey’s Centennial Earthquake Catalog dataset. I rely on this dataset to account for magnitude 8.0 and greater earthquakes that have taken place from 1900-2007.[1]
  • The U.S. Geological Survey’s Preliminary Determination of Epicenters (PDE) dataset. I rely on this dataset to account for magnitude 8.0 and greater earthquakes that have taken place since 2008.[2]

The following chart compares the number of 8.0+ magnitude and greater earthquake activity across different time periods since 1900.

You will notice that there is no apparent trend in the number of magnitude 8.0 and greater earthquakes since 1900. However, the chart does show that there has been a record number of magnitude 8.0 and greater earthquakes over the past fifteen years or so.

The above chart suggests we are living in a period of historically high magnitude 8.0 and greater earthquakes activity. However, we should recognize that we are only able to compare decades over the past century. We do not have the data to compare recent years with other periods over the past 2,000 years…

It remains to be seen whether we will see an increasing number of magnitude 8.0 and greater earthquakes in the coming years, but the number of these earthquakes should increase in the coming years if we are approaching the end times…

I hope you found this article on trends in magnitude 8.0 and greater earthquake activity since 1900 informative. If you have any questions or comments please share in the comments section below.

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  1. Centennial Earthquake Catalog numbers from 1900 to 2007 were obtained from a text file found on the USGS’s Centennial Earthquake Catalog page: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/data/centennial/centennial_Y2K.CAT
  2. PDE numbers for 2008 to the present were obtained on May 18, 2018 from the USGS’s Search Earthquake Archives, which can be accessed at the following link: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/search/ I set the custom magnitude at 8.0 and set the search range starting on January 1, 2008. Under advanced options I selected: “US – National Earthquake Information Center, PDE”. Under output options, I choose CSV and ordered results by time: oldest first.
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Wayne Croley
Wayne Croley

Hi! I’ve studied and written about Bible prophecy since I was a teenager. My goal is to make Bible prophecy easy for you to understand while avoiding the sensationalism seen elsewhere. I am the author of several end time books, including Prophecy Proof Insights on the End Times, a comprehensive book about the end times. I hold an M.B.A. and degrees in Managerial Economics and Political Science.