When someone talks about earthquakes in the United States, most minds will immediately jump to the state of California and its San Andreas Fault that marks a boundary between two of the Earth’s tectonic plates. Despite the disastrous possibilities that can occur due to the seismic activity of this famous fault line, there are other areas in the U.S that can just as easily spew forth disaster from underground.
Below are some of the most earthquake prone regions in the United States in no particular order.
This is one of the most famous earthquake prone zones in the United States. California harbours a significant stretch of the San Andreas Fault and has fallen victim to numerous quakes in previous times; with over 5 notable ones. In 1857, the Fort Tejon earthquake wreaked havoc in the northern and central parts of California. It recorded a sizeable 7.9 magnitude on the Richter Scale.
San Francisco was near the epicenter of a major quake with a 7.8 magnitude on the Richter Scale in 1906 causing the death of over 3000 people in the resultant fires and damage. The city also felt the effects of two other quakes thereafter; a 5.4 magnitude one in 1957 and a 6.0 magnitude quake in Parkfield in 2004.
It is therefore safe to say that this is the most seismically active region in the United States. With the frequency of the seismic occurrences, it is only a matter of time before the two tectonic plates grating against each other give way to another quake in the area.
The Pacific Northwest
Located further up North from on the Western coast of the United States is a fault line that can lead to quakes that make the ones in the California regions look like a run down the slide in the amusement park. This makes it another earthquake prone region in the States.
The area lies just 50 miles off the Cascadia Subduction Zone, an area 680 miles long of massive North American land mass being shoved under the ocean crust. Should this give way, the resultant earthquakes are easily capable of striking 9 and above on the Richter Scale.
This means that the area will be hit by an earthquake 30 times stronger than that experienced by the folks down in San Francisco.
One of the reasons why an area like this, with the potential to cause a lot of destruction, is not the first on lips of the masses in the field of earthquakes is because the major seismic activity takes a long time to occur. The last major earthquake along this fault occurred in the 1700s and hit a 9 on the Richter Scale. A few hundred years have rolled by and many predict that it is high time another Big One rolled through. This would greatly devastate areas like Oregon, Portland, Seattle as well as Vancouver in British Columbia.
This northerly state faces practically the same problem as the states in the Pacific Northwest. The continental landmass is forcing the ocean crust beneath it. This process resulted into one of the biggest earthquakes ever recorded. A major jolt amounting to 9.2 magnitude on the Richter Scale hit Prince William Sound in 1964 to calamitous results.The resulting tsunami, together with other damage led to the loss of over 128 people.
For the time being though, the people of Alaska have been given a reprieve from such a quake by Mother Nature. Geological records show that these quakes take about a third of a millennium to a nearly a full one to recur.
The most logical areas to find hot zones for earthquake occurrence are regions overlying junctions of tectonic plates. New Madrid is found in Missouri which is smack in the middle of the North American plate. There is no concrete theory defining the occurrence of earthquakes in this area.
Between 1811 and 1812, a triumvirate of major earthquakes rolled through this area, with the largest clocking 8 on the Richter Scale. This seismic activity was felt across majority of the country causing damage all across the Mississippi River and the surrounding hills and plains.
Seeing as some of the hot zones are overdue for major activity, it would be prudent to have some information at your fingertips that would save your life and that of your loved ones.
Should an earthquake happen to occur, drop to your hands and knees so that the force of the quake does not fling you around.
Once on the floor, seek shelter under a sturdy piece of furniture, most notably a desk or table. In the absence of such shelter, a spot near an interior wall would be ideal. This should be away from windows whose glass can shatter or from items atop counters or mantels that can topple down and cause bodily damage. One should hold onto the shelter till the shaking stops and be prepared to move with the shelter in case it moves as well.
Prior to all this – before the earthquake hits – there should be plans made for any outcome. Emergency supplies should be gathered and there should be a plan detailing evacuation from the building to a designated safe rally point.
Sources: CDC Emergency Prepared Response