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, are maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey, State geological surveys, universities, research institutions, and foreign governments.
  • Provides rapid notification of earthquake events to civil defense and government officials in the affected area, and to the public through the news media.
  • Produces regional assessments of earthquake hazards in conjunction with State and local governments. This information is used by: local planners and building officials in setting appropriate building and retrofitting standards in an area government and civil defense officials in planning for disaster recovery professionals conducting detailed site assessments researchers engaged in basic and applied research.
  • Engages in basic research to learn more about the nature of earthquake activity.
  • Provides education on earthquake hazards and safety to the public by publishing and distributing literature, and through a variety of other outreach efforts.

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What is a seismic zone, or seismic hazard zone?

Although you may hear the terms “seismic zone” and “seismic hazard zone” used interchangeably, they really describe two slightly different things. A seismic zone is used to describe an area where earthquakes tend to focus; for example, the New Madrid Seismic Zone in the Central United States. A seismic hazard zone describes an area with a...