Bucket lists – we all have them; either written down or just in our heads.

In my bucket list I have things like:

  • diving with sharks (from inside a cage – I’m not that brave)
  • bungee jumping
  • Skydiving (which I have already crossed off)
  • more stuff and…
  • surviving an earthquake

This last one I realised suddenly isn’t going to be easy to cross off.

For my next holiday I wanted to find out which place in the world would give me the best chance to experience Mother Nature being naughty.

Since traveling around the world can get pricey – I decided to go for a place that’s listed on Airbnb.

Disclaimer before reading on:
I do realise earthquakes destroy lives, kill people and are generally really terrible for many people around the world– please do forgive me for the trivial language I use here. This is just an entertainment blog post about using small data for content ideas and my idea of experiencing an earthquake. I’m not saying earthquakes are cool. This is also not a sponsored post of any kind.

Earthquake Magnitudes

I looked into earthquake data from 2013 at http://www.emsc-csem.org/ (Thanks Dennis) to find out how many earthquakes occur and in which location.

Random fact:
There are estimated 1,300,000 earthquakes of magnitude of 2-2.9 – apparently we can’t even feel them.

I had to find something bigger.

I decided to focus on Earthquakes with magnitude of more than 6 – there were 147 of these recorded in 2013.

Here’s a map of all the magnitude 6 or more earthquakes in 2013:
emsc 6M earthquakes map
It seems to me Papua New Guinea was my best chance; as there were 4 earthquakes in April.
Going there for a week could be a good shot, but still the odds were against me.

I decided to broaden my search and look at magnitude 5+ earthquakes hoping to increase my chances.

There were 1,699 of magnitude 5+ earthquakes in 2013 – this gives me a lot better hopes of experiencing an earthquake.

Here’s the map of these earthquakes:

emsc m5 earthquakes map

I’ve also used open heat map to display all of the earthquakes as the map generated by EMSC had a limit:

world map of earthquakes

The not so great news was that most earthquakes of 5M+ (magnitude of 5+) in 2013 happened in February, I’ve displayed all these here on a timeline:
DataHero Earthquakes in 2013

Now my list grew – my top places to go were:

  • Philippines
  • Chile
  • Pakistan
  • Japan


On October 15th and 16th there were 17 earthquakes – I like these odds.
To the left is a map from Airbnb listing currently (18/05/2014) offered places to stay, to the right is the map pulled from http://www.emsc-csem.org/ – I’m after the red dots as they symbolise earthquakes closest to the surface.
philippines earthquakes map

Apparently Tagbilaran is where it’s at when it comes to epicentres in Philippines.
Airbnb found about 60 listings for me in this region ranging from dorm rooms to private beach houses.
This one I felt was worth highlighting for all of you hard core backpackers:
philippines shared room


There were 4 very strong (magnitude 6+) earthquakes on 30th and 31st October 2013 in Chile – but I felt this didn’t give me great odds at catching one.


In September 24th 2013 there was a series of 6 very strong (one of them was 7.7 magnitude) earthquakes.
Again – one series doesn’t give great odds.


Japan proved to be the safest bet, with the following earthquakes that interestedo me:

  • 8 earthquakes in the first week of April 2013
  • 10 earthquakes following this from 14th April till 21st April

Problem with these was that it was already May, I kept on looking… and I found:

  • 8 earthquakes between November 15th and 21st 2013

These mostly happened very near Tokyo and Chiba.
There were a lot of rentals in this region of Japan – here’s my favourite (although a bit pricey for Airbnb – I just love how it looks):
japan room

Here are the earthquakes from last year near Chiba region (on the right) and the airbnb listings on the left:
japan earthquakes chiba region


I’ll be aiming to get down to Philippines for October 15th and 16th this year and/or in November 15th to 21st to the Chiba region of Japan, while visiting Tokyo too.
If you’re a fellow earthquake-wanna-be-hunter check out the EMSC website for interactive earthquake maps.

I will be writing a follow up on using small data for content and also a follow up on the success of my trip. I will also follow up with the most popular ways of preparing for earthquakes around the world.