What happened in Japan 22 hours ago and has continued with major aftershocks is not in an isolated area.
It's on the Ring of Fire, a horseshoe-shaped, 25,000-mile-long ring, that almost encircles the Pacific Ocean from South America through the U.S. West Coast around the Aleutian Islands into the Far East to the Far South Pacific.
Why is it such a popular earthquake zone? The theory is that plates of the earth's surface are not all one, but are like pieces of a puzzle sliding on top of and above and below other plates eventually creating an earthquake. It happens all the time, just not this big.
Remember Christchurch, New Zealand, three weeks ago? The Japan quake was 8,000 times as strong.
In fact, 90 percent of the world's quakes are in this zone as are 75 percent of the volcanoes. A relatively mild 5.1 quake in 1980 triggered the Mount Saint Helen's eruption in Washington.
A similar sized quake Tuesday along the Pacific Coast in southern Oregon near Bandon caused little if any damage.
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