Earthquakes don't occur as often in the Caribbean as they do on land but the quake that hit Haiti Tuesday was not unprecedented, scientists say.
Paul Mann of the University of Texas at Austin says the Haiti quake occurred along a vertical fault line that runs from Montego Bay, Jamaica, to the southern part of the island of Hispaniola. The plates have been pushing against that particular fault since a major quake in 1760, Mann says.
But what about the United States? Is the mainland in danger of the same kinds of earthquake that hit Haiti?
According to scientists, the most active U.S. fault lines are located on the West Coast, along the San Andreas and the entire coast, in the sea bed off California's northern coast, and in the Aleutian Trench by southern Alaska. All of these faults experience "regular" earthquakes often.
But generally speaking, earthquakes across the interior of a continent are small and infrequent, according to Wikipedia.
The largest earthquakes occured in Charleston, SC, in 1886, and New Madrid, Missouri in 1812, which many believe was the biggest quake ever recorded in the U.S.
The New Madrid fault system is huge, extenting 120 miles to cross five state lines and cut the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers in several places.
According to the SCC Health website:
The great earthquake of 1811-1812 was actually a series of over 2000 shocks in five months, five of which were 8.0 or more in magnitude. Eighteen of these rang church bells on the Eastern seaboard. The very land itself was destroyed in the Missouri Bootheel, making it unfit even for farmers for many years. It was the largest burst of seismic energy east of the Rocky Mountains in the history of the United States and was several times larger than the San Francisco quake of 1906.
Experts assign a 3% probability of a major earthquake by the year 2040.
Go here to learn more about all of the fault lines zig-zagging across the planet.
Below is a video montage of various locations experiencing earthquakes. (c) UPI (c) tPC