Earthquake risk increases for state

  • Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A NATIONAL SEISMIC Hazard Map, issued by the US Geological Survey (USGS), shows an uptick in earthquake risk for about half of the US. Parts of South Carolina reflected an increase since a 2008 survey. MAP COURTESY OF USGS.

One of the greatest earthquakes in US history occurred in Charleston. On August 31, 1886, the city and nearby cities suffered major damage, although points as far as 100 miles away were strongly shaken.

Charleston residents felt the first shock at 9:51 p.m. and lasted 35 to 40 seconds. Strong aftershocks followed during the next 24 hours. The earthquake killed an estimated 60 persons from falling buildings with many more injured. Besides Charleston, the earthquake caused damage in Columbia, Augusta and Savannah, Georgia according to the US Geological Survey.

The total area affected included cities as far away as New York City, Boston, and Milwaukee, as well as Havana, Cuba, and Bermuda. All or parts of 30 states and Ontario, Canada, felt the principal earthquake.

It could happen again.

National Seismic Hazard Maps issued by the US Geological Survey (USGS) show an uptick in earthquake

risk for about half of the US and lower in other areas of the nation. The USGA updated the National Seismic Hazard Maps for the first time since 2008. The map shows parts of 16 states have the highest risk for earthquakes. South Carolina is included in the higher risk data. Other states are Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois, and Kentucky.

The National Seismic Hazard Maps display earthquake ground motions for various probability levels across the United States and are applied in seismic provisions of building codes, insurance rate structures, risk assessments, and other public policy. The USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project developed these maps by incorporating information on potential earthquakes and associated ground shaking obtained from interaction in science and engineering workshops involving hundreds of participants, review by several science organizations and state surveys, and advice from expert panels and a Steering Committee.

For more information and real-time feed of earthquakes visit www.earthquake.usgs.gov.

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