Global earthquake fatalities and population

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Abstract

Modern global earthquake fatalities can be separated into two components: (1) fatalities from an approximately constant annual background rate that is independent of world population growth and (2) fatalities caused by earthquakes with large human death tolls, the frequency of which is dependent on world population. Earthquakes with death tolls greater than 100,000 (and 50,000) have increased with world population and obey a nonstationary Poisson distribution with rate proportional to population. We predict that the number of earthquakes with death tolls greater than 100,000 (50,000) will increase in the 21st century to 8.7±3.3 (20.5±4.3) from 4 (7) observed in the 20th century if world population reaches 10.1 billion in 2100. Combining fatalities caused by the background rate with fatalities caused by catastrophic earthquakes (>100,000 fatalities) indicates global fatalities in the 21st century will be 2.57±0.64 million if the average post- 1900 death toll for catastrophic earthquakes (193,000) is assumed. © 2013, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute.

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Holzer, T. L., & Savage, J. C. (2013). Global earthquake fatalities and population. Earthquake Spectra, 29(1), 155–175. https://doi.org/10.1193/1.4000106

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