News & AnalysisSeismology

More Megaquakes on the Way? That Depends on Your Statistics

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Science  22 Apr 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6028, pp. 411
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6028.411

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Lately, the world has been rocked by more than its usual share of the biggest earthquakes ever accurately recorded: the magnitude-9.0 "megaquake" that just struck off Japan; another one that hit off Indonesia 6 years ago; and sandwiched between them, the great magnitude-8.8 Chilean quake of 2010. Before these three, however, nothing like them had been seen for 40 years. Could these three big quakes be physically connected? Could the first of them somehow have touched off a cluster of great earthquakes spanning the Pacific? And if so, has this cluster played itself out? Experts differ.