Earthquake Maps Reveal Higher Risks for Much of U.S.

Saturday, July 19, 2014
By Paul Martin

by Soren Dreier
July 19, 2014

Look out, South Carolina, Illinois, and Missouri. Although California is well known for earthquakes, new federal government maps extend the high-risk zones for temblors across much more of the country.

On Thursday, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) announced updated U.S. National Seismic Hazard Maps, which reflect the most current scientific views on where future earthquakes will occur, how often they will occur, and how hard the ground will shake.

Since the agency’s previous maps were released in 2008, “the general patterns of earthquakes across the U.S. have not changed significantly, but lots of the details have changed,” says Mark Petersen, who leads the USGS’s mapping efforts from Denver as chief of the National Seismic Hazard Project.

The maps are widely used by engineers and planners to design buildings and infrastructure to withstand earthquakes, and Petersen says his agency will be working with that sector to decide if building codes need to be updated.

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