USGS: Induced quakes raise damage risks in 2016

Posted at 12:24 PM, Mar 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-28 13:56:44-04

The U.S. Geological has released it's 2016 earthquake forecast, and it looks like more bad news for the Sooner State.

For the first time, USGS maps identify potential ground-shaking hazards, including human-induced earthquakes. In the past, the USGS solely created maps based on naturally occurring earthquakes.

RELATED: Earthquake insurance coverage: Do you need it?

According to the USGS, seven million people live and work in the areas of the central and eastern U.S with potential for damaging shaking from induced earthquakes.

Mark Petersen, Chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project says “By including human-induced events, our assessment of earthquake hazards has significantly increased in parts of the U.S." Peterson also said “This research also shows that much more of the nation faces a significant chance of having damaging earthquakes over the next year, whether natural or human-induced.”

Below is more information on significant hazards facing several states provided by the USGS. For more information from the USGS Website click here.

Six States Face the Highest Hazards

The most significant hazards from induced seismicity are in six states, listed in order from highest to lowest potential hazard: Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arkansas. Oklahoma and Texas have the largest populations exposed to induced earthquakes.

“In the past five years, the USGS has documented high shaking and damage in areas of these six states, mostly from induced earthquakes,” said Petersen. “Furthermore, the USGS Did You Feel It? website has archived tens of thousands of reports from the public who experienced shaking in those states, including about 1,500 reports of strong shaking or damage.”

In developing this new product, USGS scientists identified 21 areas with increased rates of induced seismicity. Induced earthquakes have occurred within small areas of Alabama and Ohio but a recent decrease in induced earthquake activity has resulted in a lower hazard forecast in these states for the next year.  In other areas of Alabama and small parts of Mississippi, there has been an increase in activity, and scientists are still investigating whether those events were induced or natural.

People living in areas of higher earthquake hazard should learn how to be prepared for earthquakes, and guidance can be found through FEMA’s Ready Campaign.

One-Year Outlook: The Nation’s Shortest Forecast Yet

The new hazard model estimates where, how often and how strongly earthquake ground shaking could occur in the United States during calendar year 2016. The USGS chose this short timeframe of one year because induced earthquake activity can increase or decrease with time and is subject to commercial and policy decisions that could change rapidly.

The USGS National Seismic Hazard Map uses a 50-year forecast because that is the average lifetime of a building, and such information is essential to engineering design and the development of building codes. Building code committees are still determining whether it is appropriate to treat induced earthquakes in building code revisions, in part because induced seismicity changes on short time scales compared to the years it takes for building codes to be updated, reviewed and adopted.

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