Earthquake Facts and Statistics

Frequency of Occurrence of Earthquakes

Magnitude Average Annually
8 and higher 1 ¹
7 - 7.9 15 ¹
6 - 6.9 134 ²
5 - 5.9 1319 ²
4 - 4.9 13,000
(estimated)
3 - 3.9 130,000
(estimated)
2 - 2.9 1,300,000
(estimated)

¹ Based on observations since 1900.
These numbers have been recently updated, based on data from the Centennial catalog (from 1900 to 1999) and the PDE (since 2000).
² Based on observations since 1990.

Magnitude vs. Ground Motion and Energy

Magnitude Change Ground Motion Change
(Displacement)
Energy Change
1.010.0 timesabout 32 times
0.53.2 timesabout 5.5 times
0.32.0 timesabout 3 times
0.11.3 timesabout 1.4 times

This table shows that a magnitude 7.2 earthquake produces 10 times more ground motion than a magnitude 6.2 earthquake, but it releases about 32 times more energy. The energy release best indicates the destructive power of an earthquake. See: How much bigger is a magnitude 8.7 earthquake than a magnitude 5.8 earthquake?

The USGS estimates that several million earthquakes occur in the world each year. Many go undetected because they hit remote areas or have very small magnitudes. The NEIC now locates about 50 earthquakes each day, or about 20,000 a year.

As more and more seismographs are installed in the world, more earthquakes can be and have been located. However, the number of large earthquakes (magnitude 6.0 and greater) has stayed relatively constant. See: Are Earthquakes Really on the Increase?


Number of Earthquakes Worldwide for 2000 - 2010
Located by the US Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center

Magnitude 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
8.0 to 9.9 1101 2 1 2 4 0 1 1
7.0 to 7.9 14151314 14 10 9 14 12 16 6
6.0 to 6.9 146121127140 141 140 142 178 168 142 74
5.0 to 5.9 1344122412011203 1515 1693 1712 2074 1768 1754 845
4.0 to 4.9 8008799185418462 10888 13917 12838 12078 12291 6928 3667
3.0 to 3.9 4827626670687624 7932 9191 9990 9889 11735 2898 1342
2.0 to 2.9 3765416464197727 6316 4636 4027 3597 3860 3007 1059
1.0 to 1.9 102694411372506 1344 26 18 42 21 25 12
0.1 to 0.9 5110134 103 0 2 2 0 1 0
No Magnitude 3120280729383608 2939 864 828 1807 1922 20 16
Total 22256235342745431419 31194 30478 29568 29685 31777 * 14792 * 7022
Estimated
Deaths
231213571685 33819 228802 88003 6605 712 88011 1787 225420

Starting in January 2009, the USGS National Earthquake Information Center no longer locates earthquakes smaller than magnitude 4.5 outside the United States, unless we receive specific information that the earthquake was felt or caused damage.

Number of Earthquakes in the United States for 2000 - 2010
Located by the US Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center

Magnitude 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
8.0 to 9.9 0000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
7.0 to 7.9 0112 0 1 0 1 0 0 1
6.0 to 6.9 6547 2 4 7 9 9 4 1
5.0 to 5.9 63416354 25 47 51 72 85 54 22
4.0 to 4.9 281290536541 284 345 346 366 432 294 212
3.0 to 3.9 91784215351303 1362 1475 1213 1137 1486 1491 1103
2.0 to 2.9 6606461228704 1336 1738 1145 1173 1573 2372 846
1.0 to 1.9 0222 1 2 7 11 13 25 12
0.1 to 0.9 0000 0 0 1 0 0 1 0
No Magnitude 415434507333 540 73 13 22 20 16 10
Total 2342226138762946 3550 3685 2783 2791 3618 * 4257 * 2207
Estimated
Deaths
0002000000 0

* As of 24 May 2010

Earthquake Information for the 1990s

Graphs of Earthquake Statistics

We detect, but generally do not locate, about 50 mine blasts (explosions) throughout the United States on any given business day. These blasts typically occur between noon and 6 PM local time Monday through Saturday. Of these, about one event every two days is large enough that we compute a location for the blast and post it to a separate explosions listing.