Record number of earthquakes hit Korean Peninsula last year

By 정주원
  • Published : Jan 6, 2014 - 15:33
  • Updated : Jan 6, 2014 - 15:33
Ninety-three earthquakes of magnitude 2.0 or above hit the Korean Peninsula last year, the most since seismic monitoring began in 1978, the weather office said Monday.

The figure is also more than double the annual average of 44.5 recorded since 1999 when the observation system was first digitalized.

Also last year, 17 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or above struck the peninsula, with 15 of them felt by people, the Korea Meteorological Administration said.

By region, there were 52 quakes in the West Sea, 15 in the East Sea and seven in North Korea.

A series of quakes, in particular, were recorded in waters near the Baengnyeong Islands off Incheon, Boryeong in South Chungcheong Province and Heuksan Island in South Jeolla Province.

"It is hard to see the occurrence of more than two quakes in succession as an omen for a large-scale earthquake," the KMA said. Still, a comprehensive study is needed to determine the cause of a growing number of earthquakes on the peninsula, it added.

Data from the U.S. Geological Survey shows that the world was hit by 1,542 earthquakes of magnitude 5.0 or stronger last year, a level similar to the annual average of 1,639 quakes recorded from 1978 until 2012.

The largest earthquakes to hit the country last year occurred in waters near Heuksan Island on April 21 and in waters near the Baengnyeong Islands on May 18. Both were 4.9-magnitude quakes, the sixth-most powerful to hit the country since 1978. (Yonhap News)