Stunning Map Reveals World’s Earthquakes since 1898

If you’ve ever wondered where — and why — earthquakes happen the most, look no further than a new map, which plots more than a century’s worth of nearly every recorded earthquake strong enough to at least rattle the bookshelves.

The map shows earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 or greater since 1898; each is marked in a lightning-bug hue that glows brighterwith increasing magnitude.

The overall effect is both beautiful and arresting, revealing the silhouettes of Earth’s tectonic boundaries in stark, luminous swarms of color.

The map’s maker, John Nelson, the user experience and mapping manager for IDV Solutions, a data visualization company, said the project offered several surprises.

“First, I was surprised by the sheer amount of earthquakes that have been recorded,” Nelson told OurAmazingPlanet. “It’s almost like you could walk from Seattle to Wellington [New Zealand] if these things were floating in the ocean, and I wouldn’t have expected that.”

In all, 203,186 earthquakes are marked on the map, which is current through 2003. And it reveals the story of plate tectonics itself.

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