Between 1989 and 2004, more than 180 earthquakes of magnitude 5 or greater have struck in the continental United States. U.S. presidents have declared 11 of these major events disasters. Our hearts go out to everybody who has been affected by the earthquakes.
An earthquake is a sudden, rapid shaking of the earth caused by the breaking and shifting of rock beneath the earth's surface. When the forces grow strong enough, the plates suddenly break free causing the ground to shake.
Aftershocks are smaller earthquakes that follow the main shock and can cause further damage to weakened buildings. Aftershocks can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake. Some earthquakes are actually foreshocks that precede a larger earthquake.
Ground shaking from earthquakes can collapse buildings and bridges; disrupt gas, electric, and telephone service; and sometimes trigger landslides, avalanches, flash floods, fires, and huge, destructive, seismic sea waves called tsunamis. Buildings with foundations resting on unconsolidated landfill and other unstable soils are at increased risk of damage.
When an earthquake occurs in a populated area, it may cause deaths and injuries and extensive property damage. Striking with no notice, an earthquake can suddenly disable a community and leave individuals struggling for their lives. You should prepare now to survive in earthquake country, or consider moving to Kingman, Arizona with a very low potential for an earthquake.