Experts say recent strong quakes are not abnormal

8:30 AM, Mar 2, 2010   |    comments
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Saint Petersburg, Florida - In the last month, several large earthquakes have rattled the world. With the disasters in Haiti and the more recent quake in Chile, you could be wondering what's causing all the activity.

Geophysicist Rob Wertz of the United States Geological Survey says that earthquakes such as the one in Chile are due to its location.

"In a subduction zone, two plates of the earth's crust come together. They're floating along on some very viscous rock. They come together, pushing up against one another. Something has to give. One will dive underneath the other. It's called a subduction zone because of that," Wertz explains.

Even though it may seem like there have been more earthquakes than usual this year, Dr. Uri ten-Brink of the USGS says the frequency and power of those earthquakes is not abnormal. According to the USGS there have been 13 earthquakes in Chile of 7.0 or greater magnitude since 1973. The earthquakes in Haiti, Japan and Chile are unrelated due to the distances between them.

Another common danger that follows earthquakes under the seafloor is a tsunami. When the plates push against each other, they cause a ripple in the water that could travel long distances as a tsunami.  According to CNN, after the earthquake in Chile Feb. 27 tsunami warnings were issued to California, Alaska, Hawaii and Japan. 

Florida has little to worry about when it comes to earthquakes or tsunamis.

"Florida and the Gulf of Mexico is not nearly as tectonically active as places like Haiti and Chile. And we are relatively protected from tsunamis," says Wertz. The protection is provided by the shallow waters in the Gulf and around the Bahamas. Florida also doesn't have a history of earthquakes. According to Ten-Brink, there is an increased probability of earthquakes where they have already occurred.

There may not be much to worry about from earthquakes in Florida, but the USGS in Saint Petersburg continues to monitor and research geologic activity in Tampa Bay and worldwide.

Melissa Grimes and David Leonard, 10 Connects

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