The Five Cities Most At Risk For The Next Big Earthquake

Tyler Durden's picture

Damages from the earthquake that hit the San Francisco area this weekend are estimated to be as high as $4 billion. For many cities around the world, particularly coastal cities situated on the geologically active Ring of Fire, an earthquake could be catastrophically destructive. Bloomberg looks at the five cities that are most vulnerable to earthquakes.



As Michael Snyder rather ominously warns, the quake last weekend is just the start of the shaking in California...


Don't get too excited about what happened on Sunday.  Scientists assure us that it is only a matter of time before "the Big One" hits California.

In fact, the 6.1 magnitude earthquake that hit northern California on Sunday was not even the largest earthquake along the Ring of Fire this weekend.  According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake shook the area around Valparaiso, Chile on Saturday and a 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck Peru on Sunday.

As I mentioned above, we have moved into a time when seismic activity is steadily rising.  It has gotten to the point where even the mainstream media cannot ignore it anymore.  For example, just check out the following excerpt from a recent CBS News report…

The average rate of big earthquakes — those larger than magnitude 7 — has been 10 per year since 1979, the study reports. That rate rose to 12.5 per year starting in 1992, and then jumped to 16.7 per year starting in 2010 — a 65 percent increase compared to the rate since 1979. This increase accelerated in the first three months of 2014 to more than double the average since 1979, the researchers report.

Something is happening that scientists don't understand, and that is a little scary.

As I wrote about the other day, earthquake activity seems to particularly be increasing in the United States.  While the west has been relatively quiet, the number of earthquakes in the central and eastern portions of the nation has quintupled over the past 30 years…

According to the USGS, the frequency of earthquakes in the central and eastern U.S. has quintupled, to an average of 100 a year during the 2011-2013 period, up from only 20 per year during the 30-year period to 2000.


Most of these quakes were minor, but research published by the USGS earlier this year demonstrated that a relatively minor magnitude 5.0 quake caused by wastewater injection after conventional oil drilling triggered a much bigger, 5.7 magnitude quake in Prague, Okla.


“We know the hazard has increased for small and moderate size earthquakes. We don’t know as well how much the hazard has increased for large earthquakes. Our suspicion is it has but we are working on understanding this,” said William Ellsworth, a scientist with the USGS.

What in the world could be causing this to happen?

Oklahoma, which used to rarely ever have significant earthquakes, has experienced over 2,300 earthquakes so far in 2014.

That is absolutely staggering.

And of course volcanic activity has been rising all over the planet as well.  In 2013, the number of eruptions around the globe set a new all-time high, and right now persistent rumbling under Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano has much of Europe on alert...

For more than a week the earth has been rumbling beneath Iceland’s looming Bardarbunga volcano. The almost continuous small earthquakes led the government to activate its National Crisis Coordination Centre this week and block off access to the largely uninhabited region around the Bardarbunga caldera.


Major airlines are making contingency plans for a potential eruption that could throw dust into the atmosphere and disrupt flight paths between North America and Europe.

Some scientists are saying that if that volcano erupts, it "could trigger Britain’s coldest winter ever".

Clearly something is happening.

All over the world seismic activity is on the rise.

That means that the shaking in California (and in much of the rest of the world) may soon get a whole lot worse.

So what do you think is causing all of this?

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Hal n back's picture

climate change, obviously


666's picture

Good thing fracking doesn't cause any problems, right?

camaro68ss's picture

I can see it now in SF. "where are the supply trucks mr. Obama. Where hungery. We need food and water. We need trucks on the corner now"

bigdumbnugly's picture

i was wondering what five cities hillary was going to be stomping around in next....

blackholes's picture

You know how when we get sick our bodies just void everything and try to heat and cool the problem to death?

Maybe the Earth has a bug it's trying to get rid of...

NotApplicable's picture

I just love it when geological history is expressed as concerning merely by looking at changes over a decade or two. The statistics presented here are but a blip and likely not even as meaningful as a rounding error. While fracking may indeed play a part in seismic activity in some areas, overall, it is dwarfed by the energy present in plate tectonics.

As I learned long ago in boot camp, "Yours in not to wonder why. Yours is but to do or die."

Prepare for the unlikely while hoping for the best is all that one can do.

Oh, and just look at that plate graphic above, and notice there's only one spot on land where the plates move apart. If you subscribe to the theory of abiotic oil, you might note that there's no cheaper and easier spot on the planet to secure future supplies.

Oldballplayer's picture

On the geologic timeline, the last Ice Age is recent.  As in, we are just coming out of it.

Geologic timelines are listed in the hundreds of thousands of years as a small point.  To suggest we can make any assumptions or projections on variances over such a small time frame is simply ludicris.

Headbanger's picture

Earthquakes??    BFD!!!

it's the fucking massive, ugly, horribly fast asteroids about to smash Earth to little bits that's the real BFD!

Badabing's picture

I think that water level rise has put a tremendous strain on the Pacific plate.
The Pacific plate is mostly under water except for a little strip west of the San Andreas fault. Just a few inches of water over the span of the Pacific Ocean can put a tremendous amount of pressure on the ocean floor and trigger a catastrophic event called an ELE

Mr. Ed's picture

....good point!

And, when you add to that the relative upthrust of the North American plate caused by the incredible depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer and surrounding areas (caused mostly by hoards of little gerbils screaming about their outsized GREEN! lawns. their pools! and their property values), you get an added component of vertically directed shear stress all over the place.

This added vertical shear component (caused by downward force on the Pacific Plate vs. relative upward force on the North American Plate) would tend to concentrate along the San Andreas fault... should be interesting.


PS: if you're thinking that the tectonic plates would deform before transmitting significant shear into the San Andreas... true enough on a geologic time scale; but this is over a period of a few decades... way too fast for viscoelastic stress relief to set in.

svayambhu108's picture

Perfect storm: heavy winter in europe, russia cuts the gas

Four chan's picture

too bad they shut down dollard's research facility at bolinas cal. and let the hippies at commonweal destroy all the priceless equipment.

Pure Evil's picture

It's obviously Bush's fault.

The Big Ching-aso's picture

A quake here a quake there pretty soon we're all gonna get religion and become quakers.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

No, it's God's fault.  He made it, he can fix it.

Oh wait, incoming message... It's YOUR fault now, I'm told.  Pure Genius (God's PR agents).

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Never mind the Blame Game.  You want "No Fault" Insurance.

BTW, does insurance cover Earthquakes?  What about the "Extended Warranty" on my GM vehicle... can you fix that crushed Suburban for free?

StandardDeviant's picture

Cats and dogs, living together...

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Climate History of the last 800 years (roughly):

1100-~1250:  Medieval Warm Period

1350 - 1650: Little Ice Age

There were cooling periods after 1770 and 1850 as well.  So what do you figure would follow a Cool Period?

Yes We Can. But Lets Not.'s picture

If you seek grants, power, fame, control, you'd figure man-made warming is what would follow a natural cool period.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Who cares!? We can always release METHANE gas.  10x more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas.

Before you know it, the whole fucking planet is one giant desert.  The Anunaki and Isis, Ra, Elohim, Baal, Jesus and Allah will be proud that we made conditions to which all these guys are partial to.

Citxmech's picture

When do the sand worms come out of hibernation?

BuddyEffed's picture

In response to "climate change, obviously" and to this "

The average rate of big earthquakes — those larger than magnitude 7 — has been 10 per year since 1979, the study reports. That rate rose to 12.5 per year starting in 1992, and then jumped to 16.7 per year starting in 2010 — a 65 percent increase compared to the rate since 1979. This increase accelerated in the first three months of 2014 to more than double the average since 1979, the researchers report. " 

there might be some link to climate change shifting mass.  As ice melts off of glaciers in Greenland, Antartica, and in the mountainous regions, that mass runs off and is moved elsewhere.  There is extra weight in the oceans, and less weight on the land.  If that extra weight had been on the land for a long time (thousands of years) then the stress forces would have had a chance to stabilize.  But when the mass is moved over a short time period to a new place then the stress forces try to rebalance, and that might trigger earthquakes.  Many readers have inched out onto thin ice.  As your mass moves, the ice tends to crack beneath you, and stop cracking in the place that you moved off of.  Obviously, the world and plate tectonics is a more complex system, but the same laws of physics apply.   Moved weight requires a rebalancing of forces and stresses.  It's fundamental engineering thinking and rationale.

espirit's picture

Sooo... the Earth is going to correct the problem and do a <start over>?

500 Million years of evolution down the drain in 3...2...1...

chistletoe's picture

no .... entities like viruses and insects are pretty efficient at altering and evolving quickly inorder to adapt to changing environmental features .... only archaic, unecessary, wasteful creatures like people will perish ....

Oldballplayer's picture

So, a pound of ice weighs more than a pound of water?

BuddyEffed's picture

Fool, the trillions of tons of ice that that were previously located on land in Greenland for instance, and pushing down very hard with extra force there, has to run off and that extra weight is now pushing down spread out over the oceans.  Over the oceans, it may be spread out but there still is a redistrubution of forces.  Now consider if the oceans rise 1 meter in the next 100 years.   Imagine the extra weight of 1 extra meter height of water over a square mile, then imagine that weight from millions of square miles. Eventually, there will be much more weight in the oceans and all of that weight will have been removed from land (mostly in Greenland and Antartica).  That's a massive redistrubiton of stress forces, which could both effect earthquakes and volcanoes too as magma chambers in places may be squeezed an extra amount. 

Also note that I mentioned ANTARTICA, NOT THE ARTIC.  In ANTARTICA, the ice does not float but is sitting on contintenal land and there are more shitloads of ice than you can count, and when it melts it runs off.   In the ARTIC, the ice floats so it doesn't make a difference there, except for the loss of ice cover changing the average albedo, which lets it capture more heat, and make it harder to refreeze.



A cubic meter of water weights 2200 lbs.  The current ocean surface area is around 350 million sq km.


So, if we do the math and multiply the weight by the surface area converted into square meters instead of square kilometers we get : 2200, x 350,000,000 x 1000 x 1000 = 770,000,000,000,000,000.   


That’s 770 quadrillion pounds of weight that would be moved off of the land and moved onto the oceans.  That’s quite a lot of stres forces that would be redistributed.  The seabeds will be pushed down harder than they currently are and will try to sink a little deeper.  And the land where the ice meted off of will not be pushed down as hard, so it will try to spring back a little.  

Now consider just one centimeter of ocean rise.  The redistributed weight would be 1/100 of that, but it’s still 7.7 quadrillion pounds of mass that moved from one place to another.

Imagine laying on a beach, and someone sets a cubic meter of water on your chest (2200 lbs), that wasn't there before.  The redistribution of forces will now make it difficult to breath.  And your body will be forced down deeper into the sand, quite noticably, leaving a mark.

Dark Space's picture

Nerd alert!

Look for the guy maniacally laughing in the computer lab chanting "those fools!" while reading Zerohedge.

Badabing's picture

You troll basted Buddy is correct.
Just conceal the truth, who do you work for you sell out!

BuddyEffed's picture

Correction, not just a nerd, but a Nerds Nerd. You should see the size of my head. Hey drink or die, notice I said the size of my head and not the size of my ego. No sass in other areas, or segues either. I'm 6'4, and pumped. Are we clear? Crystal?

CultiVader's picture

Your argument might hold water, but you,sir,come off as insufferable.

BuddyEffed's picture

Cult guy, if you haven't noticed, ZH is not for the meek or weak.  And as Frank Zappa has correctly observed, "The meek shall inherit nothing" :

"Are we not entertained", throws sword into arena battle dirt in disgust....

Further entertainment value can be obtained by seeking out each song from the "You Are What You Is" album, and enjoying the unique and talented instruments and clever and amusing vocals and lyrics.  Guaranteed to ease your suffering :

detached.amusement's picture

Hey MoronEffed,

better revisit those bad greenland ice sheet calculations,

and who the fuck told you all the ice in antarctica was on land?  and you believed them???


sounds like you're another one of those too smart for your own good imbeciles

BuddyEffed's picture

Hey amused to death, by definition, all of the ice in and on Antartica is on land.  It's a mostly ice covered continent with glaciers thousands of feet high all above sea level.  Now there is sea ice, that is by defininition ice covering the ocean and Antartica does have a lot of sea ice surrounding it.  But that sea ice is still a pittance compared to the glaciers currently sitting above sea level and sitting on land that is currently above sea level.   Bad Greenland, etc. calculations?  You saw the math.  The math is good.  Don't overead into what I posted and make any more invalid ASSumptions.  You got better math?  Then put up, or SHUT UP.  Pretty much all you proffered in your statement was name calling, and unsupported wide sweeping generalization.  Please don't dumb down the average ZH commentary content with your bland tripe.  You make it less fun and interesting for the smart and good people who frequent this establishment.

detached.amusement's picture

typical warmista response...rolleyes...

"what?!  I'm right, screw you, all my math is correct and there's no holes in it"


yeah, all that sea ice in antarctica....its just a rounding error, no need to bother considering it on water...


not surprising.  pick what data you like, pick what data you dont...


how you think we got AGW in the first place, lol...

drink or die's picture

"there might be some link to climate change shifting mass"


Yes, let's just talk out of our asses and postulate what "might" be causing something, even though we have no evidence or sound theories.   Science in the 21st century.

BuddyEffed's picture

No evidence or sound theories?  Were you a liberal arts major?   Or maybe you believe some magical sky being that you have never seen, but sends you important messages has got it all figured out, and will right the injustice and unfairness that were allowed by him in the first place?  Math is math, physics is physics and engineering insights and analyses are where sound theories come from.  Ask Archimedes.  Ask Copernicus.  Ask Galileo.  Ask the Wright Brothers.

drink or die's picture

Please cite evidence of earthquakes being caused by ice melting.  I'm sorry, but walking around on a frozen lake doesn't count.


What you pasted is not a sound theory.  It's someone postulating based on their understanding of physics and their (obviously) limited understanding of plate techtonics. 


Maybe you should go stick to r/athiesm and own some "fundies" there.

BuddyEffed's picture

Look at this :

The same principle is involved.  Mass and weight were added to an area, because a dam captured water.  As the weight built up, it pressed down harder in the general area, inducing earthquakes.  Now the amount of water behind those dams is a pittance to the amount of water running off and redistrubiting from glaciers in Greenland, Antartica, etc.

Suggest you google glacial rebound, mister knows little of plate tectonics, and knows little of physics.   Here, I'll even hold your hand and lead your horse to water.  Take a drink?

drink or die's picture

Do you know what evidence is?  This is not evidence:


"The most widely accepted explanation of how dams cause earthquakes is... "


Just because a lot of people believe something doesn't make it true.

BuddyEffed's picture

By your statements, it's apparent that evidence to you is just something you believe in or someone else doesn't believe in, regardless of good engineering considerations backed up by websites that give credence to the merit in technical considerations proferred.

Badabing's picture

Drink and die,

"Just because a lot of people believe something doesn't make it true."

This theory has been suppressed so a lot of people never heard of the hydrodynamic connection so have another drink!

BuddyEffed's picture

As far as captured water behind dams causing earthquakes go, DoD might be tempted to argue that water is not ice, and therefore my point is somehow invalid or mute.  I would be careful along that line of thinking, because I think that there are more than a few astute ZH readers who could successfully argue that water is indeed, in fact ice (for all intents and purposes in this technical context).

detached.amusement's picture

Flake?  Decide it was time for a name change?


magnetism has NOTHING to do with this phenomena, YEAH.....friggin morons

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

And I am wondering when there will be 10.0 quake where the African, Arabian and European Plates meet.

Please, God.  Please!  Just give us the 10.0 and the Plague and Locusts will follow.  Then watch them cross the Reed Sea in the OTHER direction.

oldmanofthesee's picture

Sarc off. I can't imagine fracking is not a contributor. But, how do so many "smart" people in the fracking community, deny this? 

gmrpeabody's picture

Perhaps the source of their paychecks has something to do with it...

Oldballplayer's picture

Yeah, I had a flea piss on me the other day and I almost fell over.

If someone thinks Fracking is going to bring on "the big one" then they either have no idea of what fracking is, or they have no understanding of how large tectonic plates are.

The amount of geologic "damage" that fracking does is the equivalent of a flea tripping over a hair on your dogs ass.

Bunghole's picture


They are fracking the shit out of the Utica and Marcellus in Eastern Ohio without a rise in earthquake activity.

I guess those frackers in Oklahome are better than our frackers in Ohio.