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Currently showing: Climate/natural disasters > Disaster risk

08 Dec 16 19:31

So far, 2016 has been a notable year for earthquakes. We've seen damaging and deadly events in Japan, Ecuador, Taiwan, Italy and New Zealand, among others. This week adds another two the list -- in Indonesia and the Solomon Islands. While this may sound like an uptick in earthquake activity, the worldwide number of magnitude 6+ earthquakes hasn't been anything beyond average this year. This just highlights how sensitive we are to the location of earthquakes and their fault ruptures. A normal year with a few in the wrong place can be enough to remind us of the ongoing risk that we face globally from earthquakes.

Today's M6.5 California earthquake was too far offshore to have caused notable damage and too small to have generated a large tsunami. Nevertheless, I'm sure there were more than a few of us whose heart skipped a beat when we saw notifications of an earthquake in California. It should serve as a reminder that California sits close to the boundary of three tectonic plates (today's shock between the Pacific and Juan de Fuca plates).

Tectonic plates move slowly and not everyone in California will have experienced a damaging earthquake. This slow-burning fuse can sometimes lead to a false sense of security as to when earthquake insurance will be needed. We have more of a tendency to put it off -- the maybe next year thought process. Active faults that run beneath our towns and cities do not remind us of the risk in the same way that my neighbor's tree reminds me every day of risk from windstorms. The threat of major shocks will always be present in California and many other parts of the world. Communicating this risk is something we work on a lot at Swiss Re. See the link below to read more…

[Image: A screen shot from the USGS catalog search highlights three notable earthquakes that have occurred in the last 7 days. Credit: U.S. Geological Survey  Department of the Interior/USGS]

Category: Climate/natural disasters: Disaster risk, Earthquakes

Location: California, United States


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