This week, while human disasters unfolded in Ukraine and the Mideast, the planetary deep remained relatively quiet. These geologically benign periods often leave me wondering: is the next Big One just around the corner? Major faults along the west coast of the United States (in California and off the coasts of Oregon and Washington) are long overdue for another great earthquake. The east coast of the United States has been curiously quiet since its last great quake, in 1755, just off the coast of Massachusetts; were such an event to reoccur today, greater Boston would suffer catastrophic losses. And the New Madrid fault zone of southeastern Missouri, which in 1811-12 yielded a devastating series of earthquakes — among the largest on record in North America — continues to simmer with seismic activity. A recurrence in that area is probable, but unpredictable.
But we need not worry unduly about these events. Their occurrence — or the occurrence of similar events — is inevitable. Like that distant dark asteroid that at this very moment is looping, unseen, on its long slow orbit that will eventually intersect with Earth’s, these geologic and cosmic processes are beyond our measure and control. Life on Earth has always been this way. What else can we do but live and love this gift of life on Earth?
This is why we listen to the Earth.
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Once again, about a dozen earth earthquakes were audible here this week:
- Southeastern Alaska (magnitude 4.6; 3,069 miles away)
- Kermadec Islands, New Zealand (5.5; 8,603 miles)
- Near Coast of Chiapas, Mexico (5.1; 2,535 miles)
- Loyalty Islands (4.8; 8,877 miles)
- Kuril Islands (6.2; 5,899 miles)
- Fiji Islands Region (6.9; 8,219 miles)
- Gulf of California (4.8; 2,683 miles)
- Near Coast of Guerrero, Mexico (5.0; 2,700 miles)
- Chile-Bolivia border region (5.5; 4,520 miles)
- Southeastern Alaska (5.9; 2,986 miles)
- East of South Sandwich Islands (5.4; 7,801 miles)