# Can the National Seismic Hazard Maps be used as an earthquake forecast tool for the near future?

Not really. The USGS Seismic Hazard Maps website and the Unified Hazard Tool (for building custom maps) are designed to display the probability of different events that might occur in a several-year to several-decade period. The model bases all probability estimates on the average rate of earthquakes over long periods of time.

As you shorten the time window, you should expect greater and greater fluctuations in what might be observed from the mean behavior that would be observed if you had a thousand year time span at your disposal.

## Related Content

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### How do I get earthquake hazard maps for locations outside of the U.S.?

We know of no current "zone" designations for sites outside of the United States. For locations outside the United States for which seismic design is required for military facilities, there exists a standard based on probabilistic spectral ordinates in the manner of the International Building Code and are declared to reflect the 2015 version of...

### How are engineers working to make roads and buildings safer?

Earthquake engineers are working to make roads and buildings safer in the event of a major earthquakes. This includes both improving the design of new buildings and bridges as well as strengthening older units to incorporate the latest advances in seismic and structural engineering. The Federal Emergency Management Agency plays a central role in...

### What is the USGS doing to mitigate and respond to earthquake hazards?

The U.S. Geological Survey performs the following functions related to earthquake hazard mitigation: Receives, analyzes, maintains, and distributes data on earthquake activity worldwide. Satellites link our National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado to a network of seismograph stations. These stations, located throughout the world...

### What is the probability that an earthquake is a foreshock to a larger earthquake?

Worldwide the probability that an earthquake will be followed within 3 days by a large earthquake nearby is somewhere just over 6%. In California, that probability is about 6%. This means that there is about a 94% chance that any earthquake will NOT be a foreshock. In California, about half of the biggest earthquakes were preceded by foreshocks;...

### What is the difference between earthquake early warning, earthquake forecasts, earthquake probabilities, and earthquake prediction?

The USGS uses these four terms to refer to four different things . Early warning is a notification that is issued after an earthquake starts. Probabilities and forecasts are comparable to climate probabilities and weather forecasts, while predictions are more like statements of when, where, and how large, which is not yet possible for earthquakes...

### What is the probability that an earthquake will occur in the Los Angeles Area? In the San Francisco Bay area?

Los Angeles area: Within the next 30 years the probability is: 60% that an earthquake measuring magnitude 6.7 46% that an earthquake measuring magnitude 7 31% that an earthquake measuring magnitude 7.5 will occur in the Los Angeles region. San Francisco Bay area: Within the next 30 years the probability is: 72% that an earthquake measuring...

### How do I decide whether or not to get earthquake insurance?

You should consider the following factors when deciding whether or not to get earthquake insurance: proximity to active earthquake faults seismic history of the region (frequency of earthquakes) time since last earthquake building construction (type of building and foundation) architectural layout materials used quality of workmanship extent to...

### How do earthquakes affect buildings?

Ground shaking is the primary cause of earthquake damage to man-made structures. Many factors influence the strength of earthquake shaking at a site including the earthquake's magnitude, the site's proximity to the fault, the local geology, and the soil type. More than 250 structures throughout the United States have been outfitted with seismic...

### What is the likelihood of a large earthquake at location X?  Is it safe to go to X since they've been having a lot of earthquakes lately?

The National Seismic Hazards Mapping project provides an online Web tool for determining the probability of a large earthquake within 50 kilometers (~31 miles) of a specific location in the United States over a certain time period. The calculation is based on the latest available information from seismic hazard data. However, asking if it's safe...

### How will my house hold up in an earthquake? Can the USGS send someone out to evaluate my property?

Published maps will only provide generalized, uninterpreted information about specific areas. Every property consists of a unique combination of geologic and structural factors that must be considered to determine what might happen to a house during an earthquake. Therefore, an individual site study is necessary. Geologic factors include: type of...

### What are the earthquake hazards/risks where I live?

Determining your risk with regard to earthquakes, or more precisely shaking from earthquakes, isn't as simple as finding the nearest fault. The chances of experiencing shaking from an earthquake and/or having property damage is dependent on many different factors. The National Hazard Maps use all available data to estimate the chances of shaking (...

### What is seismic hazard? What is a seismic hazard map? How are they made? How are they used? Why are there different maps, and which one should I use?

Seismic hazard is the hazard associated with potential earthquakes in a particular area, and a seismic hazard map shows the relative hazards in different areas. The maps are made by considering what we currently know about: Past faults and earthquakes The behavior of seismic waves as they travel through different parts of the U.S. crust The near-...
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Date published: December 11, 2019

### USGS provides update for the National Seismic Hazard Model

USGS experts recently released a study that incorporates the latest earthquake science findings into an update of the National Seismic Hazard Model for the “lower-48” United States.  Read the full report here:  https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/8755293019878199

Date published: April 24, 2018

### East vs West Coast Earthquakes

Why was an earthquake in Virginia felt at more than twice the distance than a similar-sized earthquake in California? The answer is one that many people may not realize. Earthquakes east of the Rocky Mountains can cause noticeable ground shaking at much farther distances than comparably-sized earthquakes in the West.

Date published: March 14, 2018

### USGS Authors New Report on Seismic Hazard, Risk, and Design for South America

New seismic hazard and risk assessments can help at-risk communities prepare for future earthquake disasters

Date published: June 26, 2014

### New Audiences, New Products for the National Seismic Hazard Maps

New Audiences, New Products for the National Seismic Hazard Maps

Date published: April 21, 2008

### Earthquake Hazard Maps Show How the Nation Shakes with Quakes

Friday's magnitude-5.2 earthquake in southern Illinois is a reminder that earthquakes are a national hazard.

Date published: January 22, 2001

### New USGS Map Will Improve Earthquake Hazards Assessment in the Bay Area

A new geologic map of surficial deposits in the nine-county San Francisco Bay region that can be used to evaluate earthquake hazards has been released in digital form by the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park.

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February 28, 2017

### USGS Forecast for Ground Shaking Intensity from Earthquakes in 2017

USGS map displaying intensity of potential ground shaking from natural and human-induced earthquakes. There is a small chance (one percent) that ground shaking intensity will occur at this level or higher. There is a greater chance (99 percent) that ground shaking will be lower than what is displayed in these maps.

February 24, 2017

### USGS Forecast for Damage from Natural and Induced Earthquakes in 2017

USGS map displaying potential to experience damage from a natural or human-induced earthquake in 2017. Chances range from less than one percent to 12 percent.

November 30, 2000

### San-Andreas Fault

Aerial photo of the San Andreas Fault in the Carrizo Plain. By Ikluft - Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3106006

January 1, 1994

### Northridge, CA Earthquake Damage

Collection of USGS still images taken after the January 17, 1994 Northridge earthquake highlighting the damage to buildings and infrastructure.

January 1, 1994

### Northridge, CA Earthquake Damage

Collection of USGS still images taken after the January 17, 1994 Northridge earthquake highlighting the damage to buildings and infrastructure.