Utah is performing a statewide earthquake preparedness drill on Tuesday called “The Great Utah ShakeOut.” The mock earthquake is supposed to be 7.0 in magnitude so, in the spirit of the event, we have decided to do our first data journalism piece on exactly that – large magnitude earthquakes and the deaths resulting from them. We grabbed data from the National Geophysical Data Center for earthquakes 6.5 in magnitude or greater, dating back as far as we could go (1800, though there are definitely some anomalies in the data going back more than 1900).
The visualization below shows the number of earthquakes greater than 6.5 in magnitude and the resulting deaths for each country, going back to 1800. As Utah performs the mock earthquake disaster, the primary goal is to help people prepare for just such a disaster. Preparation is key to reducing the number of deaths in large earthquakes, as the data below shows.
We’d like to point out three interesting items in the data:
- Indonesia and Japan had roughly the same number of earthquakes over this period but vastly different death counts (Japan had about 65,000 deaths while Indonesia had roughly 243,000).
- Chile and the United States experienced the same thing – almost the same number of earthquakes but a large difference in total deaths (Chile with about 62,000 deaths and the US with about 755).
- The Haiti earthquake in 2010 had a total death count grossly out of proportion to other nations, reflecting about 2.34% of the nation’s total population (by contrast, the closest death total as a percentage of the population is Turkmenistan at 0.40% of the population – a huge difference).