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What would a really “Big One” look like?

People who live anywhere along the Earth’s tectonic plate boundaries (the so-called “ring of fire” know that at any time  “the big one” – a really, really large, damaging earthquake – could happen. The largest earthquake in recorded history was a 9.5 event along the coast of Chile in 1960. The second largest was a 9.2 along the southern coast of Alaska in 1964. Since January, 1700, only six events have occurred that were 9.0 or larger – one of them as recently as 2004 in Sumatra, Indonesia.

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OpenHazards.com Predictions Align with Chile Earthquake Observations

Saturday, February 28, 2010: Still reeling from the devastating effects of the magnitude 7.0 Haiti earthquake of January 12, 2010, the world today is witnessing immense destruction and life loss in the aftermath of a magnitude 8.8 earthquake in Chile – an event hundreds of times larger than Haiti, which could turn out to be one of the most powerful earthquakes in history. In just a few tens of seconds, the Nazca tectonic plate “slid” beneath South American plate. Populations at risk

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Earthquakes and Myths

"Myths are stories told by people about people: where they come from, how they handle major disasters, how they cope with what they must and how everything will end.” – Robert O’Connell 

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Will Insurance Cover Haiti's Losses? Sorry, Bad News.

Sixteen years ago this week, the world’s eyes were on the Los Angeles, California region. The devastating January 17,1994 Northridge magnitude 6.7 earthquake had just killed 57 people, injured 10,000 others, put seven freeways out of commission, and damaged or destroyed hundreds of buildings, including a large wood-frame apartment building that collapsed and killed 16 occupants.

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Help for Haiti: Links

News and images of the January 12th Haiti earthquake and its aftershocks are unspeakably horrendous. As we join millions of others around the world in support of coordinated relief efforts, we also want to help spread the word on how to help.

Click on the following links to make donations online, or to learn more about how to participate in other ways.

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Forecasting Accuracy, Data Quality and the Haiti Earthquake

Open Hazards Group forecast a probability of less than 1% that an earthquake the size of the January 12, 2010 Haiti earthquake would occur within a 100 km radius of the actual location. Why?

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Potential Earthquake Damage and Important Decisions.

I plugged in my old address in Altadena, California to this site’s damage estimator, and placed a magnitude 7.5 earthquake (a plausible event) on the San Andreas fault. I placed the epicenter near Palmdale, California. The result I got was unsettling, and frankly made me glad I now live in an area where I only have to worry about ice storms, blizzards, tornadoes and mosquitoes. Here’s what I got:

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Are You At Risk?

You’re walking across a street when you notice a car speeding toward you. Will it hit you?

Think. Where are you in relation to the speeding car? Does the driver see you? Will you make it across the street to safety by continuing at your walking pace? Or, should you break into a run?

You realize the driver doesn’t seem to notice you, and the car isn’t slowing down. You also realize that, unless you run you’ll be run over. You immediately break into a run, and reach the sidewalk just as the car speeds by you.

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U.S. Risk and Earthquake Insurance

A basic homeowner’s insurance policy in the U.S. does not cover earthquake related loss or damage. Although 90% of the country's population lives in seismically active areas, only a fraction are covered by earthquake insurance. Even in California, the majority of the state’s homeowners opt out. A common perception is that earthquake insurance costs too much and offers little coverage. But the problem of earthquake risk is national: 38 other states face substantial earthquake hazards, including 46 million people in metropolitan areas

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Tajikistan, Mudbrick Homes and Earthquake Insurance

Thousands of people in the Vanch region of Tajikistan are homeless in the wake of Saturday’s magnitude 5.3 earthquake. The quake caused massive damage, even though its size is considered “moderate.” Major damage and/or outright collapse of roughly 1,050 mudbrick homes in the wake of the quake have left 20,000 people without shelter. Two schools and a clinic were also destroyed, and electricity supplies and communications were cut off by the quake. The quake came as the Central Asian nation is approaching its coldest time of the year, with temperatures going down to -20 degrees Celsius.


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