Most of the U.S. believes that the only serious earthquake threat comes along the West coast. August 23, 2011 may have changed that belief. There are fault lines all over this country and you may be sitting near one.
West Coast: The San Andreas Fault is probably the best known. It stretches from a little north of the Mexico/US border to San Francisco. There have been some major earthquakes on this fault, including the Loma Prieta Quake in the 1980s.
That isn’t the only fault line, nor is it the worst. The Cascadia Subduction Zone runs from Northern California into Canada. It is capable of a much stronger shaking than the San Andreas. If enough of the fault slips, it could be close to or above a 9 on the Richter scale.
Colorado and New Mexico: On the same day as the VA quake, an earthquake shook southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. This occurred on the Sangre de Cristo mountains, which are fault raised.
New Madrid: The Mississippi River hides a devastating fault line. In the early 1800s, it ruptured more than once, causing damage to the few towns and farms in the area. Sand blasts occurred, and the Mighty Mississippi flowed backwards for three days. That’s not going to be the last earthquake on that fault line, and it will echo across a wide range of the country. This line can generate over 8 points on the richter scale, and be felt as far away as New York.
East Coast Area: There are several fault lines in Virginia. The Spotsylvania and Lakeside Faults are considered prime suspects in the August 23, 2011 earthquake. A fault line in South Carolina triggered a shaker of at least 7 on the Richter scale in the Charleston area in 1886. A fault in the Tennessee Seismic Zone runs from Alabama to Virginia and is very active.
New York: The good news is that the Big Apple doesn’t sit on a major fault. The bad news is that it sits on several relatively minor faults, and some are in very inconvenient places…like nuclear power plants. There is another fault line that runs into the state from Canada. It could produce quakes about the size of the one in Virginia.
No matter where you live, it’s a good idea to check out whether or not any fault lines are near by. If there are any, prepare for the possibility like you would for any other disaster. Earthquakes do require a few different preps. Securing your water heater to a stud is very important, as is making sure furniture can’t fall on you during one.
If you have unreinforced masonry, this can pose a big hazard, both to life and property. This is costly to fix, but it’s not as costly as a life. If you’re prepared, your chances of survival greatly increase.