While the U.S. Geological Survey recorded 22 magnitude-7 or larger earthquakes in 2010, almost all the fatalities were produced by one — the major quake that hit Haiti on Jan. 12.
In 2010, about 227,000 people were killed due to earthquakes, with over 222,570 from the magnitude-7.0 Haiti event, as reported by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
According to official estimates, the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti injured 300,000 people, displaced 1.3 million, and left 97,294 houses destroyed and 188,383 damaged in Port-au-Prince and much of southern Haiti. In Haiti, this high-intensity shaking together with both buildings vulnerable to earthquakes and high population exposure resulted in catastrophe.
A magnitude-8.8 earthquake that hit offshore Bio-Bio, Chile, on Feb. 27 was the largest recorded in 2010. It killed at least 577 people, with about half of those deaths caused by an earthquake-generated tsunami. While the energy released by this earthquake was more than 500 times that of the one that struck Haiti, the fatalities were far fewer due to strict building codes in Chile and lower maximum shaking intensities.
As usual, the biggest earthquake in the United States in 2010 was in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. This year it was a magnitude-6.6 event on July 18 in the Fox Islands, and it caused no damage or casualties. The biggest 2010 earthquake in the contiguous United States was a magnitude 6.5 that shook Northern California on Jan. 10. About 30 people were injured and moderate damage occurred to hundreds of homes and buildings in the Eureka-Ferndale area. The event was felt as far away as Portland, Ore. A series of minor earthquakes peppered Oklahoma throughout the year, including a magnitude 4.4 on Oct. 13 that injured two people in Norman.
An unusual earthquake occurred near the edge of the Continental Shelf about 125 km south-southeast of Westhampton, Long Island, New York, on Nov. 30. Because it was offshore, the magnitude-3.9 tremor caused no damage, but it was felt throughout Long Island, in large parts of Connecticut and New Jersey, and as far away as Maine and West Virginia.
A magnitude-2.1 earthquake in New Jersey on Christmas Day and a magnitude-3.4 in Washington, DC, on July 16 round out the more unique seismic events recorded. The latter shook the windows in the White House, and the USGS received over 21,724 reports on the Did You Feel It? website.
A complete list of 2010 earthquake statistics can be found on the Earthquake Information for 2010 website.