This year there was a typical pattern of quake activity up until the end of March, and then things went bonkers.
In a typical month, the planet is shaken by an average of one or two medium-to-large earthquakes. This past month was not typical. Things were running on track up until the end of March, and then the ground went totally bonkers.
There was an incredible 13 quakes of magnitudes 6.5 or higher in April. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which issued bulletins for each one, says that is "easily a record for this institution." Five of these temblors were powerful enough that the center also put out tsunami warnings. They include the massive quakes in northern Chile at the beginning of the month, as well as three more that shook the Solomon Islands in the following weeks.
The unusual spike in seismic activity is shown in this animation, which displays the locations and depths of quakes for the first four months of 2014. The tsunami center explains:
This animation shows all earthquakes on earth so far this year in sequence as recorded in the USGS's NEIC database (available at earthquake.usgs.gov). Note the typical level of activity through March. But starting with the 8.2 magnitude earthquake in northern Chile on April 1, the rest of the month saw 12 more moderate-to-large earthquakes mostly in Chile and the Solomon Islands but also in Nicaragua, Mexico, Canada, and even the south Atlantic Ocean. The animation concludes with a summary map showing all of the earthquakes in this four-month period.
The center gives no indication as to what might be behind the rash of major quaking. But considering that it has the comments turned off for this video, it's probably because of some giant government conspiracy involving HAARP. Obama!!
Top image: A woman and her newborn baby at a Chilean Army field hospital in Iquique, following a magnitude-8.2 earthquake in early April that damaged several thousand homes and caused six deaths. (Luis Hidalgo / Associated Press)