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CAUSES OF OHIO EARTHQUAKES
The origins of Ohio earthquakes, as with earthquakes throughout the eastern United States, are poorly understood at this time. Those in Ohio appear to be associated with ancient zones of weakness in the Earth's crust that formed during continental collision and mountain-building events about a billion years ago. These zones are characterized by deeply buried and poorly known faults, some of which serve as the sites for periodic release of strain that is constantly building up in the North American continental plate due to continuous movement of the tectonic plates that make up the Earth's crust.
"Seismic risk in Ohio, and the eastern United States in general, is difficult to evaluate because
earthquakes are generally infrequent in comparison to plate-margin areas such as California. Also, active faults do not reach the surface in Ohio and therefore cannot be mapped without the aid of expensive subsurface techniques."
"A great difficulty in predicting large earthquakes in the eastern United States is that the recurrence interval--the time between large earthquakes--is commonly very long, on the order of hundreds or even thousands of years. As the historic record in most areas, including Ohio, is only on the order of about 200 years--an instant, geologically speaking--it is nearly impossible to estimate either the maximum magnitude or the frequency of earthquakes at any particular site.
Earthquake risk in the eastern United States is further compounded by the fact that seismic waves tend to travel for very long distances. The relatively brittle and flat-lying sedimentary rocks of this region tend to carry these waves throughout an area of thousands of square miles for even a moderate-size earthquake. Damaging ground motion would occur in an area about 10 times larger than for a California earthquake of comparable intensity."
"An additional factor in earthquake risk is the nature of the geologic materials upon which a structure is built. Ground motion from seismic waves tends to be magnified by unconsolidated sediments such as thick deposits of clay or sand and gravel. Such deposits are extensive in Ohio.
Geologic mapping programs in the state geological surveys and the U.S. Geological Survey are therefore critical to public health and safety."
MAP OF DEEP STRUCTURES IN OHIO