By The Numbers 2013: how many earthquakes this year?

As the New Year enters and the old year departs, it is time for me to produce my annual By The Numbers, year in review. It has no particular meaning, other than it demonstrates that either I have too much time on my hands, or I enjoy research and manipulation of data as a hobby. Both, I think!

A few years ago I became interested in the schism between what I saw were definite increased numbers of global earthquakes and the US Geological Survey's equally definite insistence that quakes were not increasing. I decided to look into the data, using their own numbers, benchmarks, and search engines. Well guess what? Earthquakes were increasing.

Jesus said that His coming would be preceded by signs. Some of these signs are emotional, such as men becoming greedy, loveless, brutal, etc, as listed in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Some of the prophesied signs are religious, such as apostasy rising among the professing church, false doctrine being accepted, and a loss of discernment, as many verses in 1 John, 1 Thessalonians, and other passages tell us. Some of the signs would be geophysical or celestial. There will be earthquakes in diverse places, the seas will be roaring, there will be signs in the skies and so on.

Most of those signs mentioned in the passages, notably Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Revelation 6, are going to occur in the Tribulation period. However, the signs Jesus enumerated and are listed elsewhere in the Old and New Testaments are for the entire church age and will continue into the Tribulation. The church age is between the moment Jesus ascended (Acts 1:11) and when He calls for His bride, ending the Age of Grace. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). The Tribulation period will begin the moment after the rapture and finish when Jesus returns to the Mount of Olives. (Zechariah 14:4). His signs of return are spread throughout the church age and then are clustered heavily well into the Tribulation.

As Jesus likened the signs to birth pangs, and birth pangs increase as the event nears, so will the signs increase. I could look at numbers of baptisms to determine if apostasy is rising, or number of crimes to see if lovelessness is increasing, but there is a large element of subjectivity to them. Instead I just concentrate on the geophysical signs presented in hard data because there is a lesser amount of subjectivity included in the results. It is in that context that I put together an annual look at the data than can be quantified.

One final caveat: we don't need signs to tell us Jesus is coming, because He said He is coming and that is all we need to know. I do this out of curiosity and interest, not because we need validation from scientific sources for the certainty of His appearing.

Meanwhile we can learn from the lessons every disaster gives us. John MacArthur's church is in California. In January 1994 a tremendous earthquake occurred. It is known as the Northridge quake. The earthquake had a "strong" moment magnitude (Mw) of 6.7, but the ground acceleration was one of the highest ever instrumentally recorded in an urban area in North America.

The epicenter was practically underneath Grace Community Church. Five days later, Dr MacArthur delivered a sermon titled "Lessons from the Earthquake." It is a tremendously relevant and insightful sermon, and I urge you to read to or listen to it. Here are the main bullet points he shared. In every calamity, there are many lessons for the Christian, and many other, separate lessons for the non-Christian. He preached 7 lessons for each.

Lessons for Christians
God is sovereign,
What is eternal can't be destroyed,
Disaster produces dependence on God,
Adversity enriches fellowship,
Suffering makes us long for the perfect kingdom,
Calamity strengthens us to serve others,
What is the greatest calamity can bring God the most glory.

Lessons for not Christians
For those unprepared to die, lesson number one, life is fragile,
There are limits to self-protection,
Death is inevitable,
We live in a cursed world,
Temporal disasters are only previews of coming attractions,
God uses calamity to call people to repentance,
Time is limited to heed the warning.

Time is limited. All of history is dwindling down to the moment when Jesus will return, and judge the living and the dead for all eternity. THAT is the main lesson I share with you. Repent, while there is still time. Let these statistics and notes be a lesson to you and to us all through the year: life is fragile, and to enter death unprepared is an eternal tragedy.


"The 2013 extreme weather events included several all-time temperature records in Northern and Southern Hemisphere. The February extent of snow cover in Eurasia and North America was above average, while the extent of Arctic ice in the same month was 4,5% below the 1981–2010 average." (source)

There were lots of record high temperatures, and record lows. It snowed in Cairo Egypt, and in many other places in the usually arid and snowless Middle East. Typhoon Haiyan was the largest storm on record. "With sustained wind speeds of more than 310 kilometres per hour, Haiyan was the most powerful tropical cyclone to make landfall in recorded history. ... Unusually warm subsurface Pacific waters appear to have endowed Haiyan with the energy that made it the strongest typhoon ever known to make landfall." (source)


Though the top deadliest tornadoes occurred in the 1800s and the early part of the 1900s, tornadoes in the new millennium have some notable aspects.

Notable events for the 2013 tornado year were-
--A general under-performance of tornado activity continued for the second straight year across the United States during 2013,
--The largest tornado outbreaks occurred in times typically not noted as the main tornado season,
--Two confirmed violent tornadoes that passed through New Minden and Washington, IL. are "the only violent tornadoes on record in Illinois during the month". (
--On May 20, 2013an EF5 tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma - the first EF5 tornado to occur in nearly two years. (Wikipedia)

Notable events for the tornado year 2011 were:
--553 people in the United States died, compared to 564 US deaths in the prior ten years combined. (Wikipedia)
--The April 25–28, 2011 tornado outbreak is the most prolific tornado outbreak in US history. It produced approximately 358 tornadoes, with 209 of those in a single 24-hour period on April 27. (Wikipedia)
--The May 22, 2011 Joplin MO tornado is the 7th deadliest US tornado on record, with 162 deaths

General note:
--Four of the top ten costliest tornadoes occurred in the last two years. Costliest tornadoes number 1 and 2 were the April-May 2011 Joplin MO and Tuscaloosa Alabama tornadoes, and 3rd, the May 2013 Moore OK, and 4th, Hackleburg, Alabama in April 2011.

2004, 2008, and 2011 were the highest number of tornado years. Click to enlarge



I know the men at the Weather Service have been working for many years to get lightning information out to people. I think - hope- this graph shows their efforts are working.


Dave Barry wrote a laugh out loud, hilarious review of the year. I mean Laugh. Out. Loud. In it, Barry said, "the economy's been recovering for years now without actually getting any better." He's right. But at least the bank bailout has been successful. Fewer banks are failing. But there are still more failing in this decade than at the beginning of the millennium.


The go-to database for searching eruptions is Smithsonian Volcano Project. However, they shut their database down recently for searching with filters. So I can't get good volcano information. Here is an article from The Atlantic, though the first sentences drive me crazy:

2013: The Year in Volcanic Activity
"This been a particularly eventful year for the world's volcanoes. Out of an estimated 1,500 active volcanoes, 50 or so erupt every year, spewing steam, ash, toxic gases, and lava." if this was a 'particularly eventful year' and 50 volcanoes erupt every year, how does this year compare?? Did 60 volcanoes erupt? 70? 1000? How many eruptions over 50 qualifies as a 'particularly eventful year?' But the article does have lots of beautifully photographed volcano eruptions.

This was interesting, from Dec 29: El Salvador's Chaparrastique volcano erupts for first time in 37 years , and there was this

Seven Volcanoes In Six Different Countries All Start Erupting Within Hours Of Each Other "A new island has appeared in the Pacific. A submarine eruption just off Nishino-Shima Island Japan has erupted for the first time in 40 years. The Japanese Navy noticed the explosions as boiling lava met sea water giving rise to plumes of steam and ash."

The Extinction Protocol person published a volcano report which got a lot of attention, and I looked into it but can't see where he got his data from. Caveat Emptor:

2013 marks record year for the number of volcanoes erupting across the planet (as of Dec 5, 2013)
"This year will go down on record, as seeing the most volcanic eruptions recorded in modern history. The previous number was set in 2010, at 82 volcanic eruptions for the year. The number of volcanoes erupting across the planet has been steadily rising from a meager number of just 55 recorded in 1990."

He also said that all the planet's supervolcanoes are in a phase of simultaneous inflation, but...I dunno. Caveat Caveat Emptor.


Here is the updated chart of the global number of earthquakes in various magnitudes. USGS benchmarks are seen in the left-most column. Numbers in red indicate meeting or exceeding those benchmarks. Click to enlarge.

This science researcher named "R. Webb" in the UK looked into long, long-term trends, over centuries. He reports of earthquake trends,
"Apart from the "long-term" trends... which show an ongoing persistent increase, it is perhaps more stark to record that earthquakes across the planet show a marked increase in activity since 1997. There are more major earthquakes occurring now, and this on an ever more frequent basis. 

Trends since 1986

For example, between 1986 and 1996 (incl), a period of 11 years, there were "just" 15 earthquakes listed by USGS of magnitude 7.0 or greater. This is not markedly different (albeit a slight decrease) from previous (similar periods) of 20th century, where an average of about 18 might be expected.

But between 1997 and 2007 (incl), a period of only 11 years, there were 99 earthquakes with magnitude 7.0 or greater : This is more than a six-fold increase on the previous similar period - and is a stark increase on any earlier decades in 20th century too.

His estimation of there being 190 quakes greater than 7.0 magnitude during the 38 year period between 1977 and 2014 was grossly underestimated. There were 583! (as of Dec 31, 2013)

The trends in nature here, particularly from 1997 support the wider realisation of prophesy about the "End Times", namely that an increase in earthquake activity is a per-requisite for the "second coming of Jesus Christ" foretold in the bible. It does not indicate how close we are to this event, but suggests it is not too far away. ...Although Jesus is clear that no one will know the day or the hour, and his return will indeed happen “when you do not expect”, he does give us broad pointers, one of these being natural events – like earthquakes. (source)

Broad pointer...I agree. And as John MacArthur advises, there are lessons to be learned in each and every calamity. These aren't just numbers on a page but lives affected, deaths injuries, lives changes. As always, be in prayer for the people affected by disasters, and be in prayer that the Lord should come soon. May 2014 be the year of the rapture.

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.  
2 Timothy 4:8



  1. "The church age is between the moment Jesus ascended (Acts 1:11) and when this same Jesus will return (Zechariah 14:3)."

    I humbly disagree: the church age ends at the Rapture. The seven years of Tribulation sees the Lord re-focus on Israel.

    1. Oops, you're absolutely right!! What was I thinking? I knew that. Praise the Lord for your correction. I'll fix it.

  2. There is one event I didn't see you mention, but it really caught my attention when it happened. The freak snowstorm back in October 2013 in which up to 100,000 cattle died in South Dakota. It may have been only one of many weather events that occurred this last year, but wow - that's a lot of dead cattle. If you google it you will find a number of sources for it. God bless.

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      That's right, I forgot about that. It was a catastrophe for the farmers in the Upper Midwest. Thanks for your input :)

  3. I'm curious as to why you didnt plot the earthquake data as you did with the other natural disasters? Is it because they didn't quite tell the narrative you were hoping for?

    1. I put in a whole section on earthquakes, with links, data, and two charts.

  4. Very interesting thank you may He come quickly


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