Congress requests new map showing where damaging earthquakes are most likely to occur


Important Takeaways:

  • Nearly 75% of the U.S. could experience damaging earthquake shaking, according to a recent U.S. Geological Survey-led team of more than 50 scientists and engineers.
  • This was one of several key findings from the latest USGS National Seismic Hazard Model (NSHM). The model was used to create a color-coded map that pinpoints where damaging earthquakes are most likely to occur based on insights from seismic studies, historical geologic data, and the latest data-collection technologies.
  • The congressionally requested NSHM update was created as an essential tool to help engineers and others mitigate how earthquakes affect the most vulnerable communities by showing likely earthquake locations and how much shaking they might produce. New tools and technology identified nearly 500 additional faults that could produce a damaging quake, showcasing the evolving landscape of earthquake research.
  • Key findings from the updated seismic hazard model include:
    • Risk to people: Nearly 75% of the U.S. could experience potentially damaging earthquakes and intense ground shaking, putting hundreds of millions of people at risk.
    • Widespread hazard: 37 U.S. states have experienced earthquakes exceeding magnitude 5 during the last 200 years, highlighting a long history of seismic activity across this country.
    • Structural implications: The updated model will inform the future of building and structural design, offering critical insights for architects, engineers, and policymakers on how structures are planned and constructed across the U.S.
    • Unified approach: This marks the first National Seismic Hazard Model to encompass all 50 states simultaneously, reflecting a massive collaborative effort with federal, state, and local partners.
    • Not a prediction: No one can predict earthquakes. However, by investigating faults and past quakes, scientists can better assess the likelihood of future earthquakes and how intense their shaking might be

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