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 over a certain time period. The calculation is based on the latest available information from seismic hazard data.
However, asking if it's safe to travel somewhere because of recent earthquakes is almost the same question as "Can you predict earthquakes?" A particular area can be "having a lot of earthquakes" for many different reasons, and we usually cannot tell why. Sometimes there are many earthquakes because they are part of an aftershock sequence following a large earthquake. Depending on the magnitude and type of earthquake, these aftershocks can continue for days, weeks, or months.
Some areas are prone to swarms of earthquakes, particularly geothermal areas. Other times an area has several small earthquakes and nothing more happens. Rarely, several earthquakes precede a larger earthquake, but they don't look any different than any other earthquake, so we don't know they're foreshocks until they actually become foreshocks. So, to answer the question “Is it safe...”, we don't know. You will have to make the decision based on whether or not you feel comfortable with your plans.
What is the probability that an earthquake will occur in the Los Angeles Area? In the San Francisco Bay area?
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
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.
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.
USGS map displaying seismic events in 2015 and 2016 in the central and eastern U.S. There is a high hazard for earthquakes in five areas, which are Oklahoma-Kansas, the Raton Basin, north Texas, north Arkansas, and the New Madrid Seismic Zone.
USGS map displaying potential to experience damage from a natural or human-induced earthquake in 2016. Chances range from less than one percent to 12 percent.
A timeline of earthquakes in the New Madrid Seismic Zone (top) differs significantly from a typical aftershock sequence (bottom). A new study shows that earthquakes occurring today in the region are not aftershocks of the 1811-1812 earthquakes. Rather, they are evidence that stress is continuing to accumulate. Data source: CEUS-SSC catalog.
Ground view of collapsed building and burned area at Beach and Divisadero Streets, Marina District, San Francisco, following the October 17, 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. At 5:04:15 p.m. (PDT), the magnitude 6.9 (moment magnitude; surface-wave magnitude, 7.1) earthquake severely shook the San Francisco and Monterey Bay regions. The epicenter was located at 37.04° N....
This map shows earthquakes above magnitude 4.0 in the eastern United States since 1973, the first year with a complete catalog. There are 184 earthquakes recorded. An earthquake of magnitude 4.0 or greater can cause minor or more significant damage. The circle sizes correspond to earthquake magnitude, ranging from 4.0 to 5.9 (the largest was in the Gulf of Mexico).
This graphic demonstrates that ground shaking from earthquakes is amplified at sites with sediment compared to those with harder bedrock. The upper panel shows ground shaking at bedrock and sediment sites in Washington, DC, from an earthquake in North Carolina. The lower panel shows ground shaking in DC from an earthquake in Alaska.