USGS: Fewer Large Earthquakes in 2014

The year's strongest U.S. earthquake, and the second largest quake of 2014, was a magnitude 7.9 event in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska on June 23.

The number of large earthquakes in the United States fell to 12 in 2014 from 19 in 2013, although several moderate ones hit areas unaccustomed to them, including Oklahoma and Kansas, the U.S. Geological Survey announced Jan. 7. Worldwide during 2014, 11 earthquakes reached magnitude 7.0-7.9, and one registered magnitude 8.2, in Iquique, Chile, on April 1. USGS said this total is the lowest annual count of earthquakes magnitude 7.0 or greater since 2008, which also had 12.

Earthquakes caused about 664 deaths in 2014, including 617 who died in the magnitude 6.1 quake in Ludian Xian, Yunnan, China, on Aug. 3, as reported by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Other deadly earthquakes occurred in Chile, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, and the United States, including a magnitude 6.0 quake in American Canyon, Calif., Aug. 24. One woman died from her injuries 12 days later.

The year's strongest U.S. earthquake, and the second largest quake of 2014, was a magnitude 7.9 event in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska on June 23. Several quakes below magnitude 5.0 rattled Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, and Arizona throughout the year--but USGS estimates that several million earthquakes occur worldwide every year, and on an average day, the agency's National Earthquake Information Center publishes the locations of about 40 earthquakes.

Since about 1900, an annual average of 18 quakes have a magnitude 7.0 or higher.

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