Contrary to many other years of the 21st century, no earthquake has left a global scale footprint in 2020. But 2020 was dominated by smaller destructive earthquakes with only local impact. This leaves 2020 as one of least active years in terms of earthquake damage for years.
Although earthquakes are one of the most common natural phenomena, they are considered as one of the scariest and most dangerous by many people. Given their unpredictable nature, their potential disastrous impact and their influence in the history of many cultures and nations, earthquakes are often associated with destroyed buildings and life-threatening conditions. Several databases have collected detailed information about the impact of recent and historic earthquakes, allowing a rather detailed overview of earthquake losses in many regions, sometimes with recordings of several thousand years. However, most databases only focus on the largest and most destructive earthquakes. Therefore, a lack of knowledge regarding the impact of smaller quakes is present.
In 2013, the Earthquake Impact Database (EID) was introduced with the target to create the most complete collection of damaging earthquakes. Any kind of damage to human-made buildings is set as the lower threshold. Therefore, even small quakes with minor impacts like cracked walls or damaged bricks fit the criteria of Earthquake Impact Database. More than 2200 damaging events were detected between 2013 and 2019. 2020 however became the year with the lowest number of Earthquake Impact Database events.
Currently the Earthquake Impact Database is a project of the German Thinktank Risklayer and its affiliated web projects earthquake-report.com, CATNews and erdbebennews.de. Other more extended projects like the Risklayer Explorer , where the Earthquake Impact Databases will be integrated, are planned. However, an important aspect is to keep the database available for everyone and allow usage for any kind of purpose. Therefore, the complete databases of every year since 2013 are accessible via Google Spreadsheets.
The following text will provide a summary of the global earthquake activity in 2020 with focus on the Earthquake Impact Database statistics. Additionally, we would like to compare the year 2020 with previous years.