Earthquakes happen every day, but most of the time, they are too deep to be felt by humans. However, experts are continuously mapping fault lines and studying the movements of the earth to predict and warn the public of possible disastrous earthquakes. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) recently released a study stating the most Earthquake-vulnerable states, which include Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arkansas.
According to the USGS Hazards Program, from 1973 to 2008, an average of 21 earthquakes (magnitude 3 and higher) happened in Central and Eastern U.S., and that number increased in 2009. The USGS study states that there is a 12 percent chance that these six U.S. states will experience damage from both natural and human-induced earthquakes this year.
Earlier this year, Oklahoma started experiencing unexpected earthquakes, prompting authorities to investigate. According to KOCO 5, the Oklahoma Geological Survey at the University of Oklahoma are working with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to identify the cause of these sudden earthquakes.
In the same report, Director Jeremy Boak said that these earthquakes might have been caused by new fault lines that are yet to be discovered.
"We've been working hard to delineate as many faults as we can in Oklahoma," Boak said. "We've issued a map and we know there are gaps because it's difficult to find the faults when they don't break all the way to the surface."
The USGS said that these earthquakes can be caused by both natural fault lines and induced earthquakes, which both pose hazards to the safety of the residents.
In 2015, Justin Rubenstien, a research geophysicist of USGS, explained that induced earthquakes are caused by industrial activities such as mining, which uses high pressure to break up rocks and hydraulic fracturing used by oil industries when extracting oil and gas.
These activities cause movements deep down in the Earth, leading to earthquakes. This also explains what Oklahoma's unusual earthquakes even without any known fault lines.
The natural fault lines alone poses threat to modern structures and the population living near them, but these industrial activities worsen the problem. They are giving birth to induced earthquakes which are equally dangerous. They may even be pose more hazards because they tend to happen in the most unexpected places.
The hazards are now even bigger with the combined forces of natural and induced earth quakes. But the USGS assured the public that they are doing what they can to alleviate the problem.
"We are using the best available data and principles to determine when, where and how strong the ground could shake from induced earthquakes," said Mark Petersen Chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project.
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