Patterns in the distribution of earthquakes in the U.S.
The earthquake patterns in the U.S. are fairly distinct. The most high-risk areas are the west coast, especially along the Pacific Coast, the Big Island of Hawaii and pockets in Alaska, Tennessee and South Carolina. A good part of the western part of America from Rocky mountain region has a moderate chance of earthquake while the remaining parts of the country are under a slight risk of earthquake. The areas that have the lowest chance of earthquakes are southern Texas, Florida and the northern-most states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Hawaii and Alaska also have a moderate risk of earthquake according to the U.S. Geological Survey's Seismic Hazard Maps (USGS, 2008).
I live in New York and this means I live in a region that has a slight risk of earthquakes, typically 4-8g. Most earthquakes are measures by the amount of shaking that takes place and this shaking, in turn, is expressed as a percentage of acceleration that occurs due to gravity (g).
Patterns in the distribution of earthquakes around the world
According to the USGS (2012), the earthquake activity is high along the different plates that move against each other in the world. Most earthquakes occur only in certain zones and are not distributed randomly across all parts of the world. This is because the entire earth is divided into different tectonic plates that are in constant motion and there are certain points where the neighboring plates interact. These interactions results in a lot of geological processes such as the creation of mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes.
Based on this information, USGS has identified some high-risk areas on earth. Also, past statistics helps them to point out areas that have a significantly higher chance of earthquakes. The distribution centers mostly around the Pacific coasts on the western coast of the U.S., along the Central American countries of Mexico and Guatemala, Peru and Ecuador regions of South America, a few of the Caribbean islands such as Haiti, Alaska, Japan and its coastal regions, in the Pacific ocean off the coast of Australia, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, New Zealand, some parts in the Himalayas and the middle east region between northern Africa and southern Europe. The rest of the world has little chance of earthquakes.
An example of such an earthquake took place on May 01, 2012 at 22:43:33 UTC. It took place off the shore of a region called Chiapas in Mexico, approximately 93 km southwest of this region. It is also about 861 km from the city of Mexico City. The earthquake took place at a depth of 8.7 miles and it measured 6.0 on the seismic scale.
Living in one of the high-risk earthquake areas and the necessary precautions that we will take
I would not want to move to an earthquake-prone area because of the uncertainties that come with it. However, if I am forced to move to such a place, then I will make preparations to live there as safely as I can.
Old houses have a higher chance of damage due to earthquakes because the foundations get weak over a period of time. So, I will look for a newer home with no cracks as this will limit the damage to the building. Moreover, I will look for buildings that are built earthquake-proof so that there is no damage with minor to moderate earthquakes. Chimneys are another reason for damage to a house during an earthquake and I would look for a house that does not have a chimney.
Large pieces of furniture in the house can cause damage when an earthquake occurs and I will minimize the heavy furniture and fix the existing ones firmly to the floor so that they do not topple over and hurt us.
Other than these precautions, I will also follow the earthquake preparedness solutions from the USGS. First step towards earthquake preparedness is awareness. I will talk about it with my family members and ensure that all of us know how to watch for signs and identify when an earthquake occurs.
The next step is to have a plan in place. Below are some of the steps we will take based on the information provided…