Destination Earthquake: Is Your Favorite City a Danger Zone?
The tragic effects of global urbanization were graphically demonstrated in the recent Port-au-Prince disaster, where 230,000 lost their lives to the deadly combination of high population density, lax building codes and a significant seismic event. And Port-au-Prince is not the exception: more than 403 million people live in at-risk cities, according to seismologist Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado. These include the obvious targets, such as L.A. and San Francisco, but also lesser-known at-risk cities such as Tokyo and Tehran. Even Boston, Memphis, and New York are at risk for deadly quake damage. How can you tell if your favorite destination is a danger zone? Does science have the answer?
Unfortunately, scientists are still unable to predict specific earthquakes with any accuracy. However, you can check relative risk by viewing the Global Seismic Hazard Map, available at: http://www.seismo.ethz.ch/gshap/ . Still, future tragedies can be prevented with proper planning and safer construction techniques. According to Mary Lou Zoback, of Risk Management Solutions, the most important thing we can do is to have the political will to ensure that our earthquake-prone cities are constructed with safety foremost in mind. If cities are constructed with earthquake survivability in mind, we should be able to prevent most of the injuries and damage caused by earthquakes yet to come.
via Washington Post