What are the most dangerous earthquakes zones in America?
Where are the most dangerous earthquake zones in America?
Why are these areas the most dangerous earthquake zones in America?
Chances are when you think of dangerous earthquake zones in the United States, the first state that pops into your head is California. While the Golden State has its share of earthquakes it is not the only significant earthquake zone in America. Research on dangerous earthquake zones in America indicates that there are other less famous fault zones elsewhere across the nation that are at least as dangerous as the world-famous San Andreas Fault.
The funny thing is, since the time between the earthquakes is significantly longer than in California, even the people who live “in the zone” have no clue. Still, considering the fact that experts claim these “out-of Cali” earthquake zones could give the 1906 San Francisco quake competition it’s high time they get some press of their own.
With that in mind, here are five of the most dangerous earthquake zones in America:
Dangerous earthquake zones in America
Hawaii: Hawaii is the first state you think of when someone mentions volcanoes. The truth is that the Aloha State is a dangerous earthquake zone as well. Witness the 7.9 earthquake in 1868 that killed 77 people.
What makes this even more of a concern as a dangerous earthquake zone is the fact that the 1868 quake was (until 1975) the only quake on which scientists had data. The 1975 earthquake was a magnitude 7.2 placing it 107 years after the prior quake. Still, with so little information experts are unable to accurately predict when the next major quake could occur, thus placing “Paradise” on the top dangerous earthquake zone list.
Alaska: According to various online sources, the second-largest earthquake on record hit Alaska Prince William Sound in 1964. The magnitude 9.2 quake took the lives of 128 people most of whom died from the resulting tsunami. Geological records indicates time spans of anywhere from 350 to 900 years between major quakes and yet experts note this dangerous earthquake zone could have experienced numerous smaller magnitude 8 earthquakes that simply were not significant enough to be included in any geological record.
Salt Lake City, Utah: The Wasatch Fault encompasses a 240-mile stretch that runs along the base of the western end of the Rocky Mountains and lies underneath Salt Lake City and Utah’s “urban corridor.” There has not been a major earthquake on the fault since the Mormons settled there in 1847 but geologists have unearthed evidence that reveals the fault could cause quakes as powerful as magnitude 7.5. According to their records, every 300 to 350 years one of fault’s central segments, which run under such major metropolises as Salt Lake City and Provo, has experienced a major earthquake.
The last one occurred back 300 years ago. This means the area is due for one within the next 50 years. This makes Salt Lake City a major contender as a dangerous earthquake zone.
New Madrid, Missouri: New Madrid, Missouri is what experts often refer to as “a geological enigma” that is responsible for some of the biggest earthquakes in the US. Geologist Eugene Schweig of the U.S. Geological Survey admitted that even after a quarter of a century of study the area is still “a big mystery” mainly because it’ “about as far from a plate boundary as you can get.” Still, Schweig and co-workers believe that there’s as much as a 10 percent chance of a major earthquake between magnitude 7.5 and 8 within the next 50 years.
The Pacific Northwest: Specifically, the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a 680-mile long length of land mass 50 miles offshore of Oregon, Washington state and southern British Columbia is reportedly able to cause magnitude 9 earthquakes 30 times more powerful than even the worst the San Andreas is capable of creating. Additionally, research on marine landslides caused by quakes over the last 12,000 years has demonstrated numerous magnitude 8 earthquakes on the southern portion of the fault over the years. This means on average a major quake occurs here every 270 years.
Records show it’s been 308 years since the last major quake. New research on landslides indicates that the probability of a magnitude 8 (or greater) earthquake is currently as high as 75 percent within the next 50 years. Thus, it qualifies as one of the most dangerous earthquake zones in America.
Dangerous earthquake zones in America
(Image courtesy of TreeHugger and the USGS)