September 19, 2021

How The USGS Monitors and Protects Against Earthquakes

For the past twenty-five years, earthquake preparedness and monitoring, in the United States has been under the direction of the USGS (U. S. Geological Survey) Hazards Program, in cooperation with other NEHRP (National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program) agencies. Their purpose has been, in addition to monitoring, to study why earthquakes occur, how they affect the ground and what kind of usgs earthquake emergency programs can be developed.

usgs earthquake

The program is aimed at worldwide response to disastrous quakes, being prepared for quakes, public awareness and national security. It is also dedicated to understanding how earthquakes occur and their effect. The goal is to develop methods to reduce the hazards and disaster that follows a bad earthquake as well as develop local programs for preparation in such an event.

There are a number of ways this program has developed strategies over the 25 years since it was first established. Things such as national seismic-hazard maps, which estimate possible future quakes and encourage the strengthening of any older buildings that might be affected have been developed. These maps are also being used when new bridges and other structures are proposed to avoid building in an earthquake prone area.  Make sure you and your family are prepared for when an earthquake hits – read our guide on how to make your own earthquake survival kit.

Global Positioning System stations have been placed to determine which plates, in the earth, are causing excess stress on the earth’s outer crust. New remote-sensing instruments, to identify active faults are also being used. A study of soil movements in earthquake prone areas is also under study.

The USGS has a U. S. National Seismograph Network, a National information center and a National Motion program. These keep a close tab on any movements beneath the earth’s crust, which are immediately recorded. There are currently a number of regional seismic networks in various areas around the country.

In addition to their work on United States earthquake possibilities, they also have the NSF (National Science Foundation). This foundation operates a Global Network which keeps track of earthquakes around the globe. As a result, they are able to give rapid advance notice, via a “ShakeMap”, of earthquake activity, which allows immediate response by cities, states, agencies and other interested parties.

At the present time measures are underway to have an Advanced National Seismic System to provide advanced monitors placed on the ground and in buildings where earthquakes are most likely to occur. It is felt that buildings, bridges and other structures in hazard areas need to be equipped with seismometers to determine how they respond to earthquake activity.

Building foundations, columns, walls, frames and other components of a building all contribute to its stability during an earthquake. It is felt that information on how these parts react to an actual quake will give information on how to strengthen such a structure before a heavy quake occurs. This information will also allow the design of safer buildings as well.

San Francisco, California is well known for its earthquakes. As a result, seismic instruments have been installed in its Transamerica Tower Building to record its movement when an earthquake occurs. The USGS earthquake program has made many advancements toward not only monitoring earthquakes but helping people prepare for their occurrence as well.

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