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 sensors by the USGS National Strong Motion Project (NSMP) to improve the overall understanding of earthquakes and their effects on the built environment.
The instrumentation and monitoring of structures by NSMP is only one part of USGS efforts to protect people’s lives and property from earthquake hazards in all of the Nation’s seismically active regions.
Additional information is available from the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research website.
What is the probability that an earthquake will occur in the Los Angeles Area? In the San Francisco Bay area?
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?
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?
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.
Early on the morning of August 24, 2014, Loren Turner was awoken by clattering window blinds, a moving bed, and the sound of water splashing out of his backyard pool. He experienced what is now named the “South Napa Earthquake.”
New Audiences, New Products for the National Seismic Hazard Maps
Twenty years ago this week an earthquake struck Northridge, Calif., killing 57 people and revealing a serious defect in a common type of mid-rise building. A new study by U.S. Geological Survey and Caltech engineers, shows that these mid-rise buildings with fracture-prone welds in their steel frames are much more dangerous than they would be if they met current standards.
A new report issued by the American Red Cross and the U.S. Geological Survey documents the Chilean response and recovery efforts following the Feb. 2010 magnitude 8.8 earthquake and the lessons that California should learn from this disaster.
A great earthquake along the southern San Andreas Fault could cause many tall buildings to collapse in Los Angeles, explains USGS earthquake expert Dr. Ken Hudnut in a new video interview.
Friday's magnitude-5.2 earthquake in southern Illinois is a reminder that earthquakes are a national hazard.
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.
Damaged unreinforced masonry building on Main Street in downtown Napa, California. Photograph credit: Erol Kalkan, USGS
Pavement buckling and tented sidewalk resulting from the South Napa Earthquake. Photograph credit: Thomas Holzer, USGS
by Brad Aagaard, USGS Research Geophysicist
- What factors controlled the variability in ground shaking in the earthquake?
- Will the ground shaking in future earthquakes display similar patterns?
- Hear about the advances made in recording ground shaking over the past 25 years.
- Learn how USGS uses this information
House damage in central Oklahoma from the magnitude 5.6 earthquake on Nov. 6, 2011. Research conducted by USGS geophysicist Elizabeth Cochran and her university-based colleagues suggests that this earthquake was induced by injection into deep disposal wells in the Wilzetta North field.
Photo of the pyramid top of the Washington Monument from the U.S Park Police Helicopter.
Civilians on road alongside severely damaged residential buildings in Mianyang.
A car is parked next to the rubble of a damaged building.