Timelapse of an earthquake-prone month

05:15, May 05 2014

Didn't it seem to you that the ground was exceptionally shaky last month?

That there were reports on big earthquakes happening somewhere pretty much every week? It wasn't just your imagination: April produced a higher-than-normal number of moderate-to-large earthquakes, and you can see it for yourself.

According to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC), which issues alerts for tsunamis, April was a very busy month for the earth's crust. Of course there are earthquakes every hour of every day, but the world usually only sees one or two earthquakes per month that are 6.5-magnitude or higher. This April there were 13, including five that were higher than 7.8, prompting tsunami warnings. "Easily a record for this institution," reports PTWC.

Watch this animation of January through April of this year. Everything seems pretty normal until you hit April 1 when you can see the 8.2-magnitude earthquake (and its many aftershocks) rock northern Chile.

Suddenly the world lights up like the paparazzi and it doesn't let up all month.

What does this mean? Well, probably nothing. If you have one big earthquake in a given month, you're likely going to have a bunch of pretty big aftershocks, so that right there ups the total numbers.

Last month we happened to have two big clusters, one in Chile and one in the Solomon Islands, in the South Pacific. But what's interesting, at least according to the PTWC, is all the other earthquakes that weren't part of these two major clusters. There were isolated larger-than-normal quakes all over - in Nicaragua, Mexico, Canada, and even a rare one in the South Atlantic.

While a higher frequency of moderate-to-large earthquakes is not necessarily "good", having and hearing about earthquakes that people can actually feel does help to remind cities how important it is to be prepared. So maybe the little extra trembling nudged at least a few people towards better safety and awareness.