Earthquakes in the U.S. – one hundred years

Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov, Ph.D. Probability and Statistics

If you live outside of California, you probably wonder if earthquakes present an actual hazard in your state. We’ll shed some light on the issue.

The U.S. Geological Survey Earthquakes Program provides us with a lot of valuable data to use in our visualizations. Of course, we are especially interested in the history of U.S. earthquakes.  What if we make an interactive visualization of all recorded events for the past 100 years?

When trying to view the events, it’s important to keep in mind that both detection technology and record keeping have significantly improved throughout the century. Here’s the chart showing the registered number of events for each decade.

Number of earthquakes in the U.S. by magnitude

Earthquakes by magnitude

As you can see, there are no records of small earthquakes in the first 50 years. To be precise, the lowest registered magnitude before 1973 was 5.7, which is close to the upper bound of the “Moderate” intensity range. At this magnitude the risk of damage to buildings becomes significant.

You can switch the display of small events (magnitudes from 5.0 to 6.0) on and off for your convenience. Such events should be considered safe for all earthquake-resistant structures, but still can be felt by everyone.


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About Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov, Ph.D. Probability and Statistics

Andrey Kamenov is a data scientist working for Advameg Inc. His background includes teaching statistics, stochastic processes and financial mathematics in Moscow State University and working for a hedge fund. His academic interests range from statistical data analysis to optimal stopping theory. Andrey also enjoys his hobbies of photography, reading and powerlifting.

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