Where in the U.S. is the least likely to have an earthquake

I am absolutely phobic about earthquakes. They horrify me to no end and cause me too much stress.

I was feeling pretty good about living in relatively earthquake-free southern Arizona until I found out the information School of Earth and Sustainability | School of Earth and Sustainability about faults in Arizona.

Besides California, there are quakes just waiting to happen in the Mississippi River area (New Madrid), Washington and Oregon, plus there is a large fault in the Salt Lake City area.

Which part of the U.S. is the least likely to have an earthquake. Wherever it is, I’ll be there.

All states have earthquakes. I got woken up to a very small one when we first bought our house in outer Boston suburbia. The epicenter was basically right under us. It was too small to do anything but shake loose figurines and dishes but it was still there. New Orleans also had a small earthquake when I lived there many years ago but it wasn’t notable either. I think what you are asking about is where in the U.S. has the least scary earthquakes. That question is harder but you have to look a probability distribution of where a big one is most likely to occur, population density, and building codes. It is a little like a snowstorm. Prepared areas wouldn’t suffer much from a moderate earthquake but it could wreak havoc in other places if the same one hit in an area that isn’t built to handle the same thing.

I found this map at the USGS, which might be helpful. It plots earthquakes from 1750 to 1996, by magnitudes 6 and up.

Looks like Wisconsin and North Dakota are pretty safe bets. And California? A little less so.

Iowa looks good too, thanks for the link. Guess I need to buy a warm coat and move to Wisconsin. Brrr.

I’m terribly fascinated by earthquakes and tsunamis (do some research on tsunamis and how they relate to earthquakes if you aren’t scared enough yet). I don’t live someplace where it is likely to be a concern, but I started this thread to ask people who do live in those areas how they cope.

A lot of my family lives in Northern California and they are in denial as to the threat and they cope by not thinking about it. My big problem is that we have a family reunion every year in the heart of earthquake country and of course I’m expected to attend. I want to go, but the whole time I’m there I’m dreading the inevitable (to me at least) earthquake that will bury us all in the rubble.

Meh, seems to me if you’re going to have an earthquake, California would be one of the safer places to be. Their building codes reflect their higher liklihood of having an earthquake, and as such, their buildings are made to withstand such disasters.

I hope you’re not basing your fears off the recent Haitian disaster. The reason that country was flattened was because they had nowhere near the building codes that the US has.

One minor correction: The quakes listed are rated on a modified Mercalli intenstiy scale, not the Richter scale, which people more commonly mean when referring to earthquake “magnitude.” The scale is based on human perception and the destruction made to surrounding structures rather than a directly-measured physical quantity.

You do realize that in your search for an earthquake-free zone, you are trading it for floods, fires, hurricanes and tornadoes. I’m sure someone will come along with the statistical odds showing your fear is misplaced, and that living in an earthquake area may be the safer place to live.

I grew up in a hurricane prone area and I never thought they were a big deal. I mean you gets days of warning, and if you don’t want to stick around, you go and visit Aunt Marge who lives inland for a few days.

I only wish earthquakes gave you several days notice.

Some people in southern Wisconsin felt the 3.8 earthquake that happened in northeastern Illinois last week, just FYI.

Still though, the vast majority of earthquakes are minor and cause little to no damage. If I were you, I’d work on the phobia itself rather than try to find a place that doesn’t have earthquakes. I’d be more concerned about tornados anyway.

Well now don’t be hasty. Have you considered the many enticing attractions of a new life in North Dakota?

You ask: “What is there to do in North Dakota?” And we answer: “What ISN’T there to do?” The options are as diverse as the imagination. Some like to hunt — either for antiques or for big game. Some like the stories — at the dock and at the museum. Others enjoy the howling — at a comedy club or while camping. Then there are the trails — from Lewis & Clark to Maah Daah Hey. Enjoy the four seasons, marvel at the changing landscape, travel by horseback, the seat of a motorcycle, or in a quaint little trolley. Discover all the reasons North Dakota is legendary.

That’s right, legendary. And can you visit the Lewis & Clark Trail in Wisconsin? No, you cannot. Those guys bypassed Wisconsin on their way west. Maybe they knew something? Hmm?

The USGS has what they call the Siesmic Hazard Map which takes into account earthquake frequency, intensity, etc. Here’s the program site: Hazards | U.S. Geological Survey and here’s a direct link to one version of the map: The USGS Earthquake Hazards Program in NEHRP— Investing in a Safer Future | USGS Fact Sheet 017-03

I believe these are what the insurance industry uses to asses rates for earthquake coverage.

Crap. I’m taking the kids to Disneyland in 10 days. I just know there will be an earthquake there then.

Unless you live in a highrise or right next to a high rise building, your chances of survival during an earthquake are relatively strong. So just because Arizona has earthquakes, unless you live in downtown Phoenix, I’m betting your gonna be okay.

Almost certainly will. But it will probably be a small one, one that you might not even notice unless you travel with a seismometer.

Except when they suddenly change direction and threaten somewhere that thought there was no threat. Or when you can’t get out of the danger zone because the traffic is too bad. Or when they generate tornadoes.

Hurricane Katrina killed a lot more people (1,836) than the 1989 earthquake (63).

If you’re really worried, stay in a modern hotel that looks new and well-maintained, not the cheapest motel you can find. The newer the building, the higher the earthquake safety standards it had to meet.

High rises are actually pretty safe because of their stronger and more flexible construction and also because of more regulatory scrutiny. The real killers in modern US earthquakes (other than double decker freeways) have been smaller buildings-- mostly cheaply constructed 2-5 story apartments and office buildings. This is especially an issue in places like Arizona which were not traditionally considered to be at risk and so the building codes have only recently taken seismic risk into consideration.

I’m sure the OP still has an excellent chance of surviving an earthquake either at home or at Disneyland.

When you have rocks that look like THIS one; there hasn’t been an earthquake in a loooong time. It’s outside Moab, Utah BTW.

To change the tone a little, I won’t make fun of you for having a phobia. I have one that is way more dumb than that but otherwise I am basically fearless. You could ask me to fly to Afghanistan tomorrow to go into combat and it wouldn’t bother me in the least and skydiving would be more than cool but don’t ever ask me to walk up on stage to accept an award. If I could pull it off at all, which I usually can’t, I would require several pukes in the bathroom beforehand even if I knew such a thing was going to happen. I can’t tolerate a captive audience staring at me and it has been a real issue at times. I will black out from it and lose muscle control. Lots of people have their quirks.

If you look at it rationally, earthquakes are extremely low on the risk scale in the U.S. but the same can be said of airliner travel which is about the safest thing invented in the history of mankind and plenty of people alter their lives so that they never have to face it even though they are safer on the plane than just about anywhere else they could possibly be. Taking a morning shower is way more dangerous than things most people are afraid of. Iowa is pretty good in terms of earthquake risk but tornadoes are evil demon creatures that proves there really is a Satan. I lived through a couple of them so you have to always weigh your trade-offs.

If you are serious about altering your lifestyle to get around your fear of earthquakes, you probably need Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which is designed to treat such things. It isn’t the hippy-trippy “Tell me how you feel about that” therapy. It is designed to condition you so that you exposed to the things you have a phobia about in steps and get rid of the fear forever.

My mother had an early version of that type of therapy. She was scared of snakes but she was a science teacher. She often woke up in a panic from nightmares she was having about snakes attacking her and couldn’t go back to sleep. A professional suggested she get a tiny little grass snake and work her way up from there. That worked a little too well over the course of a few years. We ended up with a 7’ foot Rat snake named ‘Ricky’ who could break out of any cage and free ranged in the house for weeks at a time and also coiled and struck even from closet shelves when you weren’t paying attention. He was really unattractive and had a bad personality but she grew to love him with all her heart. The ball pythons ended up the same way as well as the others she adopted. We probably would have ended up with an Indiana Jones type snake shelter if other life circumstances didn’t take priority.

It is something that lots of people have to deal with in different versions but it can and has been done millions of times.