The 21st century has already seen its share of devastating earthquakes, some of which have been labeled as “unexpected,” at least in the eyes of some seismologists and more than a few journalists. A list of seismological surprises could include the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman Islands; 2008 Wenchuan, China; 2009 Haiti; 2011 Christchurch, New Zealand; and 2011 Tohoku, Japan, earthquakes. Depending on where you live, you might also include smaller events such as the M∼5 earthquakes that occurred last year in Colorado, Virginia, and Oklahoma. In all of these cases the possibility of those earthquakes occurring was neither widely acknowledged beforehand in...

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