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News > U.S.

California Has 95% Chance of Damaging Earthquake: USGS

  • A fissure caused by tectonic plates in the United States.

    A fissure caused by tectonic plates in the United States. | Photo: X/ @OmmcomNews

Published 18 January 2024 (8 hours 1 minutes ago)
Opinion

The U.S. Geological Survey presented the first assessment of seismic hazards for the entire country.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) revealed that California has a more than 95 percent chance or greater of enduring a damaging earthquake over the next 100 years.

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Nearly 75 percent of the United States could experience potentially damaging earthquakes and intense ground shaking, threatening the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the next century.

The USGS led a team of over 50 scientists and engineers working on its latest National Seismic Hazard Model, which created a map showing where damaging earthquakes are most likely to occur in the country based on insights from seismic studies, historical geologic data and the latest data-collection technologies.

The new model suggested California and Alaska, both having a history of seismic events, might face a greater degree of shaking.

On the East Coast, major cities such as Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Boston might experience more severe earthquakes than previously thought.

The study revealed that 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.

The model represented the first assessment of seismic hazards for the entire country and an update to the previous version in 2018.

"The update includes more faults, better-characterized land surfaces, and computational advancements in modeling that provide the most detailed view ever of the earthquake risks we face," said Mark Petersen, USGS geophysicist and lead author of the study.

He called the new model "a touchstone achievement for enhancing public safety," as 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 country.

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