Where Will You Be When the Next Big Quake Strikes?
The United States Geographical Survey amasses staggering amounts of information on seismic activity around the globe, and maintains lists of recent earthquake activity.
When a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, there were 200,000 deaths, with hundreds of thousands more left injured or homeless. So, it took many by surprise when, on February 27, an 8.8 quake in Chile caused fewer than 1,000 deaths. One key difference is that building codes Chile are more stringent and better-enforced than in Haiti. Another is that the epicenter of Chile's quake was 200 miles south of Santiago, while the Haiti quake struck very close to Port-au-Prince, the nation's capital.
Earthquake deaths vary widely depending on location, rather than merely the power of the temblor. This is why, in the last century, China's Tangshan and Ganshu quakes -- despite magnitudes below 8.0 -- each killed more than 200,000 people. Compare that to the March 1964 Alaska quake, which despite a 9.2 magnitude caused fewer than 200 deaths.
With earthquakes seeming to increase around the Pacific Rim – the "Ring of Fire" – in recent months, many people's attention is focusing on the likelihood of a major quake in California, which is well-known for the many fault lines that criss-cross the state. The largest and most dangerous is the San Andreas Fault, which extends from the border town of Mexicali to the city of Eureka in the northern part of the state. Millions of people live close to the fault, and vital West Coast port communities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Diego are nearby. Despite generally strong building codes, damage from a shaker as powerful as the recent Chile quake could result in billions of dollars in damage and massive loss of life.
Even Americans in the Midwest have reason to be concerned. People living along the Mississippi Valley could be in for a shock, if an earthquake occurs along the New Madrid Fault. The last major quake along that fault was in 1810, when an 8.8 magnitude temblor shook the sparsely populated area. Today, this same region is home to dozens of communities with millions of residents, and damage could be massive. Will you be prepared if an earthquake strikes your area? How will you and your family react? Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety gives you things you can do to physically prepare.
In the aftermath of the Sumatra and Haiti earthquakes, and with so many reports of new quakes and great damage coming so often, are earthquakes in fact increasing? Scientists disagree on this point; one common assertion is that the perception of more earthquakes comes simply from the fact that scientists have been able to record more quakes in recent years, and that the greater damage comes because of larger populations and more building in earthquake zones. Even so, we know that even the biggest earthquakes of the last few years are almost nothing compared to the devastating temblors that your Bible predicts will occur during the Day of the Lord at the end of this age.
Jesus Christ, speaking of the prophesied end-times, said: "And there will be great earthquakes in various places" (Luke 21:11-12). Yes, mighty, city-shattering, seismic events are prophesied to shake the entire earth, culminating in a quake of unprecedented intensity just as the Son of God comes at the end of the age. "And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell" (Revelation 16:17-20).
Shocking events are prophesied to occur just prior to Jesus Christ's second coming. To learn what to watch for, and how to prepare spiritually, read our free booklet, Fourteen Signs Announcing Christ's Return.