Experts Warn of More Earthquakes Across the U.S – Should We Be Worried?

Is the U.S. in the middle of an earthquake epidemic? Let’s take a look.

Shaking Things Up 

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Since February this year, Mount St. Helens in Washington has seen almost 370 earthquakes – with 38 in one week alone

South of the Border 

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May saw earthquakes rocking the U.S.-Mexico border, with the largest hitting a 4.9 magnitude.

LA’s Unexpected Wake-Up Call

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Residents of LA were woken by an earthquake back in June, and a second one rattled homes later on in the afternoon. Both of these were well under a 5.5 magnitude, which Michigan Tech (MTU) explains would result in “Slight damage to buildings and other structures.”

Orange County’s Triple Threat

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Orange County also saw three earthquakes in June over the course of two days. The highest these reached was a 3.6 magnitude, which MTU states is “Often felt, but only causes minor damage.”

Hawaii’s Volcanic Rumble

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And Hawaii has just seen over 300 earthquakes in a 24-hour period over the last weekend in June. These were detected under the Kīlauea volcano and are thought to be a sign that it could erupt sometime soon.

Is This the New Normal?

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With reports coming in from all over the U.S. of increased earthquakes, you may be wondering if this is going to be a common occurrence as we go into the future. Well, get ready to hold onto your hats (literally) because new information has suggested that more Americans than ever are at risk of experiencing damaging earthquakes in the next century. 

The National Seismic Hazard Model

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The latest U.S. National Seismic Hazard Model (NSHM) shows that a massive 230 million people in the United States could be affected by quakes over the next 100 years. 

Increasing The Danger Zone

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That’s a huge jump – adding roughly 40 million more people to the danger zone compared to previous models from 2018. So, what’s going on here? Are we looking at more earthquakes in the future?

Mapping the Shakes

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Well, the NSHM is a mapping model that predicts where earthquakes are likely to happen based on past events and current seismic data. This latest map includes data from 130,000 earthquakes and nearly 500 active faults (cracks in the Earth’s crust where rocks slide past each other, often causing earthquakes), and it’s pointing toward trouble on the horizon.

Coast to Coast Quakes

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The updated model, published in the science journal Earthquake Spectra, shows an overall increase in earthquake risks across the entire country. Yep – it’s no longer just the West Coast that needs to worry.

Midwest Risks

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The NSHM points to places like the midwest – Missouri, for instance – which is at a high risk of earthquakes due to ancient rifts in the Earth’s crust. 

Eastern States Alert

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It also notes that even the eastern states aren’t off the hook. Despite being an area many thought was safe, in 1886, in South Carolina, there was a devastating earthquake. The new model makes sure to point out the risks these states face in the future.

West Coast Soil Issues

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We all know the West Coast is earthquake-central, but it turns out places like Seattle, Los Angeles, and Portland are in even more danger than first thought. These cities sit on top of deep soil that can amplify seismic waves, making earthquakes even more destructive.

Climate Change’s Seismic Side Effects

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Climate change doesn’t directly cause earthquakes, but it can stir the Earth up underground. Melting ice, rising seas, and changing rainfall patterns all affect the Earth’s crust in ways that could trigger earthquakes. 

Fault Lines at Risk

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Even droughts play a role – as we pump more groundwater and potentially destabilize fault lines. Climate shifts can throw off Earth’s natural balance, which can then lead to unexpected shakes.

So, Are Earthquakes Increasing?

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The big question is whether earthquakes are actually increasing. 

Risk on the Rise

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Well, according to the NSHM, the overall risk has gone up. This doesn’t necessarily mean more earthquakes are happening, but that the potential for damaging quakes is higher than previously thought. However, the data also suggests we may experience more frequent and possibly more severe earthquakes in the future.

Tech to the Rescue

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Advances in technology and more thorough data have helped scientists make more accurate predictions about where and how strong future earthquakes might be, which means more can be done to earthquake-proof high-risk areas.

Earthquake Realities

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It’s clear that earthquakes aren’t just a California problem anymore.

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The post Experts Warn of More Earthquakes Across the U.S – Should We Be Worried? first appeared on EcoHugo.

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