When we think earthquake, most Americans think California, right? Definitely not Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and Arkansas.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s seismic activity map, parts of those four states are in just as much of an earthquake danger zone as Alaska and the West Coast.
39 out of the 50 states – including New York and Tennessee – have moderate to high seismic hazard risk.
The ‘New Madrid’ fault line in the heart of the country is particularly dangerous and could affect more than 15million people in eight states – Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.
The roughly one million people living in and around Memphis are said by the U.S. Geological Survey to be at the greatest risk of a major earthquake of 7.0 or 8.0 on the Richter scale.
The fault, running from St Louis to Memphis, was the site of some of the worst ever quakes to hit the U.S. The series of four tremblers in 1811 and 1812 were so powerful they reportedly caused the Mississippi River to flow backwards.
There was said to be damage as far afield as Washington DC and Charlotte, South Carolina.
According to a 2009 report by the U.S. Geological Survey, the southern states are unprepared to ride out a major earthquake, both in terms of planning and infrastructure.
There are also 15 nuclear power plants in the fault zone that are of similar design to those battling meltdowns in Japan.
‘Memphis has an ageing infrastructure, and many of its large buildings, including unreinforced schools and fire and police stations, would be particularly vulnerable when subjected to severe ground shaking,’ said the report.
‘Although Memphis is likely to be the focus of major damage in the region, St. Louis, Missouri; Little Rock, Arkansas; and many small- and medium-sized cities would also sustain damage.
‘The older highways and railroad bridges that cross the Mississippi River, as well as older overpasses, would likely be damaged or collapse in the event of a major New Madrid earthquake,’ it added.
Another study by the Mid-America Earthquake Centre estimated that nearly three-quarters of a millions buildings would be damaged, 3,000 bridges could collapse, there could be 400,000 breaks and leaks to pipelines and the total clean-up bill could total as much as $900billion.
‘We have about 200 small earthquakes per year that we record,’ Gary Patterson of the University of Memphis Center for Earthquake Research and Information, told ABC News.
‘Compared to California, you’re getting two to three thousand smaller quakes like that, but for eastern North America, this is a hot spot, the most active seismic area east of the Rockies in the United States.’
Another well-known fault line is in New York City, crossing along 125 Street from the Hudson River to the East River. The Ramapo Fault runs about 70 miles through New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
South Carolina is also home to an active faultline and had a 7.6-magnitude quake in Charleston in 1886.
Both Hawaii and Alaska, along with West Coast states, are in the red danger zone as having a high propensity for disasters.
We swear these people are low-key trying to prepare us for the end of days. SMH.