According to a report published by the USGS on February 1, 2016, our planet experienced a total of 14 588 earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 or greater in 2015. While this is an average number of M4+ events per year (prior year averages are about 40 M4+ earthquakes per day, or about 14 500 annually), 2015 showed a significant increase of earthquake-related deaths when compared to 2014.
In 2015, earthquakes caused 9 612 deaths worldwide in 2015, a significant increase compared to 664 deaths in 2014. The majority of these fatalities, 8 964 people as reported by the UNOCHA, are attributed to the massive M7.8 (USGS) / M8.1 (CENC) Gorkha Earthquake that occurred on April 25 in Nepal. This was followed by another deadly earthquake on May 12 that killed an additional 218 people in Nepal. Deadly quakes in 2015 also occurred in Afghanistan, Malaysia and Chile.
We saw 19 earthquakes worldwide with a magnitude of 7.0 or higher in 2015. Since about 1900, the average has been about 18 earthquakes per year.
Nepal Earthquake 2015 from my drone, Phyllis. By Paul Borrud.
The biggest earthquake of the year globally was the M8.3 Chile earthquake on September 16. As reported by ONEMI Chile on September 19, 13 people lost their lives, and 11 were injured.
The biggest earthquake of the year in the United States, a magnitude 6.9 southwest of Umnak Island, Alaska, occurred on July 27. This occurred in a remote location with just a few people living within a 100 km (62 miles) radius and there was no damage. 2016, for comparison, has already broken that record with M7.1 earthquake near Anchor Point, Alaska, US on January 24.
In the central United States, seismicity continued to increase, with 32 earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 and greater in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas in 2015 compared to 17 in 2014.
Moderate earthquakes also occurred in Nevada and Arizona. A magnitude 5.0 east of Challis, Idaho, hit on January 3. In the United States, there were no fatalities caused by earthquakes.
The 2015 numbers may change slightly as the final results are completed by seismic analysts at the USGS National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado.
The USGS' 2015 global earthquake numbers report is here.
Featured image credit: Paul Borrud