Patterns in distribution of earthquakes in the U.S.
Dangerous and Natural Energy
The earthquake patterns in the U.S. are fairly distinct. The most high-risk areas are the west coast, especially along the Pacific Coast, the Big Island of Hawaii and pockets in Alaska, Tennessee and South Carolina. A good part of the western part of America from Rocky mountain region has a moderate chance of earthquake while the remaining parts of the country are under a slight risk of earthquake. The areas that have the lowest chance of earthquakes are southern Texas, Florida and the northern-most states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Hawaii and Alaska also have a moderate risk of earthquake according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Seismic Hazard Maps (USGS, 2008).
I live in New York and this means I live in a region that has a slight risk of earthquakes, typically 4-8g. Most earthquakes are measures by the amount of shaking that takes place and this shaking, in turn, is expressed as a percentage of acceleration that occurs due to gravity (g).
Patterns in the distribution of earthquakes around the world
According to the USGS (2012), the earthquake activity is high along the different plates that move against each other in the world. Most earthquakes occur only in certain zones and are not distributed randomly across all parts of the world. This is because the entire earth is divided into different tectonic plates that are in constant motion and there are certain points where the neighboring plates interact. These interactions results in a lot of geological processes such as the creation of mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes.
Based on this information, USGS has identified some high-risk areas on earth. Also, past statistics helps them to point out areas that have a significantly higher chance of earthquakes. The distribution centers mostly around the Pacific coasts on the western coast of the U.S., along the Central American countries of Mexico and Guatemala, Peru and Ecuador regions of South America, a few of the Caribbean islands such as Haiti, Alaska, Japan and its coastal regions, in the Pacific ocean off the coast of Australia, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, New Zealand, some parts in the Himalayas and the middle east region between northern Africa and southern Europe. The rest of the world has little chance of earthquakes.
An example of such an earthquake took place on May 01, 2012 at 22:43:33 UTC. It took place off the shore of a region called Chiapas in Mexico, approximately 93 km southwest of this region. It is also about 861 km from the city of Mexico City. The earthquake took place at a depth of 8.7 miles and it measured 6.0 on the seismic scale.
Living in one of the high-risk earthquake areas and the necessary precautions that we will take
I would not want to move to an earthquake-prone area because of the uncertainties that come with it. However, if I am forced to move to such a place, then I will make preparations to live there as safely as I can.
Old houses have a higher chance of damage due to earthquakes because the foundations get weak over a period of time. So, I will look for a newer home with no cracks as this will limit the damage to the building. Moreover, I will look for buildings that are built earthquake-proof so that there is no damage with minor to moderate earthquakes. Chimneys are another reason for damage to a house during an earthquake and I would look for a house that does not have a chimney.
Large pieces of furniture in the house can cause damage when an earthquake occurs and I will minimize the heavy furniture and fix the existing ones firmly to the floor so that they do not topple over and hurt us.
Other than these precautions, I will also follow the earthquake preparedness solutions from the USGS. First step towards earthquake preparedness is awareness. I will talk about it with my family members and ensure that all of us know how to watch for signs and identify when an earthquake occurs.
The next step is to have a plan in place. Below are some of the steps we will take based on the information provided by USGS (2012).
Learn how to shut off water and power main switches in case of any leaks.
Find out the nearest emergency shelter, hospital and fire station.
Make a plan to get out of the house and regroup again at a safer place.
Talk to the kids’ teachers at school and understand their emergency plan.
Stock up on emergency supplies such as food, water, medicine, flash lights, first aid kit, medicines, diapers and baby food, extra blankets, a tent and portable radios.
Besides these precautions, me and my family will understand what to do during an earthquake. If we are indoors, then we will try to hide under a table or desk and away from windows, door or any other heavy piece of furniture. If we are outdoors, then we will run away from any building or power line and if we are driving, we will stay in the car and get away from traffic. Also, we will avoid bridges or overpasses that can fall on us. We hope these precautions will protect us in the event of an earthquake.
Destructive earthquakes on record
Earthquakes are destructive and they can flatten entire cities and kill thousands of people within minutes. The most recent massive earthquake took place in Haiti on January 12, 2010 and it measured 8.0 on the Richter scale. More than 316,000 people were killed and 300,000 people were injured. Also, about 1.3 million people were displaced and even after two years, this country is still struggling to get back to its feet.
The second most destructive took place in the Eastern Sichuan region of China on May 12, 2008. This earthquake measured 7.9 and killed 69.195 people, injured 374,177 and affected more than 45.5 million people across ten provinces in China. It also resulted in the destruction of about 5.36 million buildings and caused damage in another 21 million buildings (USGS, 2012).
This earthquake shows a lot about the power of science that makes it possible to estimate the cost and destruction of each earthquake. It also helps those in earthquake-prone areas to take precautions against extensive damage such as building earthquake-proof buildings and being prepared in the case of an emergency. However, it is close to impossible to predict the occurrence of earthquakes before they occur with the current seismological tools we have today.
Seismological tools to detect planet rumblings
Despite the inability of seismological tools to predict the occurrence of an earthquake, these tools can help to identify planet rumblings to a good extent. The earth generates certain seismic waves before the occurrence of an earthquake and seismographs help to detect them. Also known as seismometers, these tools have increased our understanding of earth’s interiors and how earthquakes occur. There are two kinds of seismometers and they are teleseismometers and strong motion seismometers. Teleseismometers help to measure a wide range of frequencies, however their accuracy depends to a large extent on how the accurately the frequency is characterized. A strong motion seismometer measures the acceleration and this can be used to identify the position and velocity of the waves. They are used to better understand how manmade structures can be affected by earthquakes (Wielandt, 2002).
Difference between biological energy and geological energy
The primary difference between biological and geological energy is that biological energy comes from the sun and is stored in plants, animals and human beings while geological energy is released by the earth in the form of earthquakes. Biological energy can also be converted into chemical energy by living things through the process of metabolism and this is essential for their continued existence on earth. Geological energy is a form of mechanical energy that is released by the earth to let off some strain and this can be detrimental to the well-being of living beings on the planet.
There are also some similarities that exist between them. Firstly, they are both different forms of energy and occur as a result of some action. Both come from heavenly bodies and are not under the control of human beings. Both are exothermic processes that can be transferred to a different form of energy.
In short, earthquakes are destructive forms of energy that can impact living beings in a big way.
Wielandt, Erhard. (2002). Seismic Sensors and their Calibration. Institute of Geophysics, University of Stuttgart.
USGS. (2012). U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved from: http://www.usgs.gov/
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