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Where Do Most Earthquakes Occur In The US?

Where Do Most Earthquakes Occur In The US?

Got Questions About Earthquakes? 

If you’re traveling in the US, considering moving to a new state, or just curious and wanting to be as prepared for the worst as possible, you need to know which parts of the country are most prone to earthquakes. From this helpful article, you’ll know where and why earthquakes occur in the United States so that you’ll be ready if you find yourself in a quake-prone area. 

In this article, we’ll also cover what to do if you’re in an area where an active earthquake is occurring. There are specific steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones when an earthquake happens, including keeping emergency gear on hand to respond to any crisis.  

What Causes Earthquakes? 

The outer surface of the earth, known as the crust, is composed of a combination of large and small tectonic plates. These plates are constantly shifting and moving. The separations in these plates are known as fault lines. When a fracture has occurred in the tectonic plates of the earth, segments of the earth’s crust can move towards each other, away from each other, or past each other. Fault lines are categorized as either convergent, divergent, or transform boundaries. 

A thrust fault is a type of convergent boundary where segments of tectonic plates are shifting towards each other. When two segments of the earth’s crust converge, friction can be caused, creating vibrations that are felt across the surface of the earth as an earthquake. Tectonic shifts on a thrust fault may even cause surface terrain to change as two segments of the earth’s surface move towards each other. 

Another type of fault line where earthquakes can occur is a normal fault, which occurs on a divergent boundary. On a normal fault line, two segments of the earth’s crust move away from each other. As with thrust faults, tectonic shifts on normal fault lines can create seismic vibrations that are felt on the surface of the earth.

Strike-slip faults are found on transform boundaries where two segments of the earth’s crust move past each other in opposite directions. This type of tectonic shifting can also create friction that sends seismic waves across the surface of the earth.

Earthquakes occur along fault lines as the tectonic plates shift and move. At times, the movement of the earth’s tectonic plates creates friction, which is felt across the surface of the earth as an earthquake. Earthquakes can cause significant damage to the terrain, infrastructure, and buildings on the earth’s surface. 

Why Do Earthquakes Occur More In Some Places Than Others?

The more unstable, weak, and thin the earth’s crust is, the higher the likelihood that seismic activity like an earthquake will occur. In addition, parts of the world where there is more heat flow under the surface of the earth often have more seismic activity and fault lines present. In contrast, in areas where the earth’s crust is thicker and more stable with less heat flow below the surface, seismic activity is much less likely to occur. 

The parts of the world where the most earthquakes occur are areas that are close to a boundary between tectonic plates known as a fault line. One of the largest fault lines in North America is the San Andreas fault. The San Andreas fault is on a transform boundary, meaning it’s a point where two tectonic plates are sliding past each other. This movement can create massive amounts of friction below the surface of the earth, causing earthquakes in the areas surrounding the fault line. 

The San Andreas fault runs hundreds of miles down through the state of California, which is one of the most earthquake-prone states in the United States. Even though the plates along the fault line only move an average of a few inches per year, the friction caused by the shifts in the plates is enough to sometimes cause massive earthquakes.

The majority of the states that have frequent earthquakes in the US are on or near the west coast. This part of the country is closest to the divide between the North American plate and the Pacific plate. The two states that tend to get the most earthquakes on average are California and Alaska. Other states with high amounts of seismic activity include Nevada, Hawaii, Washington state, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Oregon. These states are all in the Western part of the US, closer to the divide between the North American and Pacific plates.

How to Be Prepared For An Earthquake 

In the event of a natural disaster like an earthquake, it’s essential to have emergency supplies on hand. If you’ve been a longtime resident of a state where earthquakes occur frequently, you may have experienced a time when an earthquake occurred, and you weren’t ready. Being in the midst of an earthquake can be overwhelming, and having the resources you need to stay safe on hand makes all the difference.  

In case of an earthquake or other natural disaster, you always want to make sure you have enough food and water to survive for up to 72 hours. Earthquakes can disrupt access to precious resources, and you may not be able to get groceries or running water if a high-magnitude earthquake occurs. Keep a survival kit handy at all times that contains non-perishable, high-calorie food, and pouches of water. If you live with other family members, make sure you have enough food and water for everyone. 

Earthquakes carry the potential for injury with them since the shaking of the ground can leave dangerous debris. For this reason, it’s essential to have a first aid kit that contains everything you’ll need to treat cuts, bumps, and bruises that may be caused by the debris created by an earthquake. A first aid kit should be compact enough to carry easily but equipped with the resources you need to fix up injuries. These include bandages, gauze, antibiotic ointment, medical shears, and more.  

You’ll also want to be prepared for the possibility that you won’t have shelter after an earthquake. An earthquake can leave you exposed to the elements, which means you’ll need protection from rain and a way to keep warm. A good emergency kit should contain a poncho and an emergency blanket, so you’ll be able to stay warm if your home is compromised and stay dry if it rains.

What To Do In An Earthquake

If you find yourself in the midst of an earthquake, find a safe spot to plant yourself and stay there until the earthquake passes, covering your head to protect yourself from any falling debris. Stay away from anything that might fall during the quake, including trees and infrastructure like streetlights and power lines. If you’re driving during an earthquake, make sure to pull over instead of trying to get away from the quake. If you’re in your home during an earthquake, stay inside unless you suspect that a gas leak might occur. Make sure to cover your head and avoid anything that could fall and hurt you. Once the earthquake passes, you’ll want to assess your home and take stock of any damage caused by the quake.

Earthquakes can be followed by aftershocks, smaller quakes that can add to the damage done by the initial earthquake. After an earthquake, make sure to anticipate aftershocks before you assume that the coast is clear. Thankfully, with a good emergency kit on hand, you should have everything you need to take care of any smaller injuries and stay warm and fed after an earthquake.

Sources:

https://www.visitcalifornia.com

https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/earthquakes/during.html

https://www.ready.gov/earthquakes

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