Earthquakes are always in the news. On Friday, March 11, 2011, an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 struck in Japan, generating a devastating tsunami. Thousands are reported killed. Why are we having these devastating earthquakes, seemingly one right after another?
The first earthquake I ever paid much attention to occurred in 1964 in Alaska. It was an incredibly powerful earthquake of a magnitude of 9.2, making it the second largest earthquake in the world in recorded history. Seeing those pictures of nearly demolished buildings and broken pavement, and once level streets now with sections eight feet below the former level, made quite an impression on me. Some areas in that quake were permanently raised by as much as 30 feet. Such incredibly powerful releases of energy are hard to comprehend. The damage to property was enormous.
The old Richter scale has been replaced with the Moment Magnitude scale, though results are usually similar to the Richter scale. Either earthquake measuring scale is somewhat misleading if you aren't familiar with it. For instance, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake produces 10 times more ground motion than a magnitude 6.2 earthquake, but the energy released is 32 times greather. But the energy released in an 8.2 magnitude quake is 1000 times more than the 6.2 magnitude quake.
The massive earthquake that just struck in northeastern Japan on Friday, March 11, was one of the most powerful that has hit Japan in the last 150 years. The tsunami unleashed by the quake swept away boats, automobiles and people in its path. Houses and larger buildings were battered and smashed and scattered pieces were washed away. The tsunami swept across the Pacific at 500 miles per hour, later brushing the coast of the United States and damaging harbors and boats in coastal California.
There were several very strong aftershocks ranging from magnitude 6.4 to 7.1. This was followed just a few hours later by another strong earthquake of a magnitude of 6.6 on the northwestern side of the island of Japan on Saturday.
This happened just as the news of the Christchurch, New Zealand quake in September, 2010, was starting to cool. The devastating earthquake in Haiti in January, 2010, and the massive magnitude 9.3 earthquake that struck Indonesia in December of 2008, are already a distant memory in the minds of most, except for those who experienced them directly and continue to suffer their lingering affects.
Earlier, in 2007, was the magnitude 8.0 earthquake which struck the central coast of Peru. In December, 2004, the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake generated the Indian Ocean tsunami we watched on television again and again. There are the historical earthquakes such as the famous 1906 San Francisco earthquake. In 1908, an earthquake struck the tips of Sicily and Italy just across the bay, taking well over 100,000 lives. And there are others that could be mentioned.
The United States Geological Service records hundreds of thousands of earthquakes that occur every year, though most of these aren't noticed because they are so small in magnitude. In the last 30 days, there were roughly 400 earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 or greater. The earth is doing a lot of shaking and quaking!
Many people have heard of the Mt. Olivet prophecy when Jesus described events leading up to His second coming. In that prophecy, Christ mentions "earthquakes in different places" (Matthew 24:7) as being part of "the beginning of sorrows" (v. 8) He then goes on to describe other happenings which will occur in the few short years immediately preceding His return – events which parallel the events described in the book of Revelation.
Search this website and view Dr. Roderick C. Meredith's telecast titled,"Why Earthquakes?" Additional articles to help put this subject in perspective are "Earthquakes and God, Disaster upon Disaster!," and be sure to read the booklet Fourteen Signs Announcing Christ's Return.