The earth is alive and constantly moving. You might notice cracks in the ceiling at your office, or a door that no longer shuts correctly. This is due to the movement of the earth, which is always shifting and settling. Just like the cracks that form on man-made structures, cracks also form deep inside the earth, and are known as fault lines.
Live Science says it best, “Faults are fractures in earth’s crust where rocks on either side of the crack have slid past each other. Sometimes the cracks are tiny, as thin as hair, with barely noticeable movement between the rock layers. But faults can also be hundreds of miles long, such as the San Andreas Fault in California and the Anatolian Fault in Turkey, both of which are visible from space.”
There are multiple large fault lines across the United States that have the potential to cause great disaster. These fault lines are constantly moving, and this underground movement causes earthquakes. Small quakes, mostly under magnitude 2.5, happen daily. But it’s only a matter of time before larger quakes happen and serious damage occurs. The five major fault lines in the US are all under big cities and highly populated areas. If your business is on top of or near any of these fault lines, you need to be prepared and have a disaster recovery plan ready.
There are five major fault lines across the United States:
The Cascadia Subduction Zone. This line runs 680 miles along the Pacific Northwest Coastline and directly affects Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. Because it’s along the coast, it will not only cause a massive earthquake, but will also cause a tsunami. Experts have predicted it capable of producing a magnitude 9.0 or 10 earthquake that can last up to 4 minutes.
The New Madrid Seismic Zone. This is perhaps the most well known fault line and has been labeled the most active fault line east of the Rockies. It spans through southeastern Missouri, northeastern Arkansas, western Tennessee, western Kentucky, and southern Illinois.
According to National Geographic, “Between 1811 and 1812, this zone experienced some of the largest quakes in history. And although they originated in the Mississippi Valley, they rang church bells in Boston and shook New York City — over 1,000 miles away! Even then-President James Madison and his wife Dolley reportedly felt shaking at the White House. After one particularly large rupture in the fault, the mighty Mississippi River was forced to run backward for several hours, devastating acres of forest and creating 2 temporary waterfalls. Fortunately the Mississippi Valley was sparsely populated back then. Today millions of people live in densely populated urban areas like St. Louis and Memphis, making this zone one of the biggest concerns for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.”
The Ramapo Seismic Zone. This fault line has been quiet for over 200 years, but has the potential to produce a magnitude 5.0 quake lasting as long as 2 minutes. This could be extremely dangerous because it sits under the very populated areas of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. It too has the ability to cause a tsunami.
The Hayward Fault. This is the second most recognizable fault line, and is also extremely unstable. Earth Magazine states,
“This very unstable fault in California has been threatening the San Francisco Bay Area for generations. It’s capable of producing quakes ranging from 7.0 to 8.0 in magnitude. The last major movement along the Hayward Fault occurred on October 21, 1868, virtually destroying downtown Hayward. In fact, it was considered the “great earthquake” until the San Andreas Fault tore San Francisco apart 38 years later. Running for nearly 74 miles through cities including Fremont, Hayward, Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond, the Hayward Fault has the potential to wreak more havoc than most California faults. Over 2.4 million people live within proximity to the fault today, not to mention the key infrastructure developments (including a major public transit system and the Caldecott Tunnel) that run precariously through the fault.”
The Denali Fault System. This fault line runs through central Alaska and has the potential to produce an earthquake ranged from 7.0 to 7.9. The last time this fault line was active was in 2002, and it produced an earthquake so strong that its effects were felt in Texas and Louisiana.
Now that you know where the major US fault lines are located, you can start to prepare your business if you are located in or near any of the immediate danger zones. And as a national disaster response company, we can help. We have developed a special program called iResponse, which will help protect your business from natural disaster, and will help you get back on your feet after the disaster is over. To learn more about our iResponse program, click here.