Paleoseismology provides information about when, where, and how often large earthquakes occur in a region or along a fault system. This information is crucial for characterizing the earthquake hazard of a region.
Earthquake hazard includes ground shaking, ground failure, surface faulting, or any effect that causes damage and loss of life. In maps
produced by the U.S. Geological Survey, seismic hazard is expressed as probabilistic earthquake ground shaking and takes into account
recent findings in paleoseismology, historical seismology, strong motion seismology, and site response. Seismic hazard maps provide
the basis for seismic provisions used in building codes, one of the main tools for reducing future losses from earthquakes. In
addition, the maps are used in emergency planning and for insurance purposes.
National Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Map shows relative levels of earthquake hazard across United States. It indicates that New Madrid
seismic zone presents highest hazard in all of central and eastern United States.
For more information, go to the
U.S. Geological Survey seismic hazard mapping web pages.