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How many Americans live and work in areas exposed to potentially damaging earthquakes?

  1. About 10% of the population
  2. About 25%
  3. About 50%
  4. Almost all

To see the answer, scroll down below the image.

Image: Northridge, CA Earthquake Damage
Damage after the Northridge earthquake in California that occurred in January of 1994. Photo Credit: USGS


The correct answer is nearly 50% of the population. More than 143 million Americans live and work in areas of the 48 contiguous states that are exposed to potentially damaging ground shaking from earthquakes. When the people living in the earthquake-prone areas of Alaska, Hawaii and U.S. territories are added, this number rises to nearly half of all Americans.

When one considers very strong ground shaking levels, the 10 states with the highest populations exposed (in descending order) are California, Washington, Utah, Tennessee, Oregon, South Carolina, Nevada, Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois. Although this level of shaking is estimated to occur relatively infrequently, it could cause significant damage and causalities.

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"Hazard a Guess?" is an ongoing series, so come back soon for more questions. Don't forget to share these with friends and family to help raise awareness of natural hazards.

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