MANLO PARK (CBS SF) – Does it feel like you’ve been hearing about more major earthquakes than usual lately? You have. In just the last few days, major quakes have hit near Japan, New Zealand and Alaska, and a recent study from the U.S. Geological Survey suggests that the global earthquake rate is on the rise.

“We have recently experienced a period that has had one of the highest rates of great earthquakes ever recorded,” USGS researcher Tom Parsons told

Parsons – a Menlo Park-based scientist – said that while there are more quakes, they can still be explained by random chance.

“As our group has been interested in the ability of an earthquake to affect others at a global scale, we wondered if we were seeing it happening. I really expected we would see evidence of something we couldn’t explain by randomness,” Parsons told Live Science’s Our Amazing Planet in an email interview.

However, no such link was found.

The findings, co-authored by USGS researcher Eric Geist, were published online in the June 21 edition of Geophysical Research Letters.

The study uncovered that the average number of magnitude 7-plus earthquakes had been about ten a year up until 1979, but has jumped to 16.7 per-year as of 2010, and has further accelerated early this year.

Parson said that, while there is no clear evidence of a link in larger quakes, smaller quakes do sometimes cluster in one geographic region.

Read more on this story.


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