Earthquakes with a magnitude 7.0 or greater have remained fairly constant in numbers throughout the last century.
However, Dave Santek (CIMSS/SSEC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison points out that there have been stronger earthquakes recently. There were no quakes of 8.5 or stronger in the 1970's, 80's or 90's, but already 4 in the 2000's. Quakes 8.0 and greater also register more since 2000, with 6 in the 1970s, 4 in the 1980s and 6 in the 1990s, yet already 13 in the 2000s.
According to the [United State Geological Survey], it may seem there are more earthquakes today because of more and better communication, and better technology.
But also, says Steve Dutch at the University of Wisconsin, growing population bases in at-risk areas cause more damage and bring more media attention. There is no question that scientific and technological advances lead to better monitoring and study - and more awareness. In 1931 there were about 350 seismograph monitoring stations in the world. Today, says USGS, there are more than 4,000 stations, with more rapid and comprehensive data reporting by satellite and computer.
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