The U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) National Earthquake Information Center has issued a bad news/good news report for 1983. The bad news is that there were more significant earthquakes worldwide than in any year since 1980. The good news is that only 2,322 persons died as the result of those quakes, almost one-third fewer than in 1982 and less than half the 1981 toll.

Significant earthquakes are defined as those of magnitude 6.5 or greater, or those which cause casualties or considerable damage. There were 70 such tremors last year, with 14 classified as “major”—magnitude 7.0 to 7.9. “Great quakes” of magnitude 8.0-plus have averaged about one a year in this century, but 1983 was the third year in a row without one.