The August 22 and 23, 2011 earthquakes in Colorado and Virginia took place in “low hazard” areas of the United States, according to this map from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). That’s why those earthquakes not only surprised those states’ residents, but also surprised scientists.
How close are you to an earthquake hazard zone?
This USGS map details the most seismically active areas of the United States. It doesn’t hold too many surprises. The West Coast of the U.S. is more prone to earthquakes than any other U.S. region, though there is an interesting hotspot around the New Madrid fault line along the Missouri-Arkansas-Tennessee borders.
But, as USGS geophysicist Rafael Abreu pointed out in an interview with EarthSky yesterday, there is no area on Earth completely immune from seismic activity.
Beth Lebwohl researches, writes and helps produce science content in audio and video formats for EarthSky. She is one of the authors on EarthSky.org, a script-writer for our podcasts, and helps host our English science podcasts in 90-second, 8-minute and 22-minute formats. Beth came to EarthSky in 2006 from the American Museum of Natural History's Department of Astrophysics, where she was surrounded by some of the greatest telescope-building, equation-wielding, code-writing physicists of our time. And they made her think . . . this science thing . . . it's pretty cool.