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Recent major earthquakes normal, scientists say

Six major quakes in 2010 'well within normal range'

Scientists say worldwide earthquake activity so far this year is normal, despite the recent deadly temblors in China, Haiti, Chile and Mexico. A press statement released by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in Menlo Park Wednesday states that 2010 "is not showing signs of unusually high earthquake activity."

"While the number of earthquakes is within the normal range, this does not diminish the fact that there has been extreme devastation and loss of life in heavily populated areas," USGS Associate Coordinator for Earthquake Hazards Michael Blanpied said.

The release states that an average of 16 major quakes -- magnitude 7 or greater -- have hit worldwide annually since 1900. Variances have ranged throughout the last two decades, with 32 major quakes hitting in 1943 but only six in 1986 and 1989.

"With six major earthquakes striking in the first four months of this year, 2010 is well within the normal range," according to the USGS.

But the Geological Survey warns that aftershocks will continue, and heavily populated areas with poor building construction are especially susceptible, although fears about a spike in earthquake activity can be put to rest.

More information is available at www.usgs.gov.

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