Earthquakes: Risk, Detection, Warning, and Research [April 19, 2010]   [open pdf - 1MB]

"The United States faces the possibility of large economic losses from earthquake-damaged buildings and infrastructure. California alone accounts for most of the estimated annualized earthquake losses for the nation, and with Oregon and Washington the three states account for nearly $4.1 billion (77%) of the U.S. total estimated annualized loss. A single large earthquake, however, can cause far more damage than the average annual estimate. An ongoing issue for Congress is whether the federally supported programs aimed at reducing U.S. vulnerability to earthquakes are an adequate response to the earthquake hazard. Under the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), four federal agencies have responsibility for long-term earthquake risk reduction: the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). They variously assess U.S. earthquake hazards, send notifications of seismic events, develop measures to reduce earthquake hazards, and conduct research to help reduce overall U.S. vulnerability to earthquakes. […]. What effect funding at the levels enacted through FY2009 under NEHRP has had on the U.S. capability to detect earthquakes and minimize losses after an earthquake occurs is not clear. It is also difficult to predict precisely how NEHRP reauthorized under H.R. 3820 would achieve a major goal of the bill: to reduce the loss of life and damage to communities and infrastructure through increasing the adoption of hazard mitigation measures. A perennial issue for Congress is whether activities under NEHRP can reduce the potential for catastrophic loss in the next giant earthquake to strike the United States."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33861
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