Earthquakes in Florida?

Don’t run for cover yet – earthquakes in the Sunshine State are extremely rare. Florida’s earthquake history only includes “minor shocks,” and just one instance of damage, according to US Geological Survey (USGS) records.

However as August 2011 quakes in Colorado and Virginia remind us, “rare” doesn’t mean “never”!

On August 23, 2011, Southern Colorado was rocked with its strongest earthquakes in more than 40 years. The 5.3-magnitude earthquake was centered near Trinidad, Co., a city about 180 miles south of Denver. The quake shook buildings and unnerved residents in Colorado and into Kansas and New Mexico, but no injuries were reported.

Hours after the Colorado quake, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia rumbled the nation’s capital. The New York Times reported the earthquake was felt along the east coast, from New England to Georgia. Other sources report the quake being felt in Ohio, Kentucky and New Brunswick, Canada. Some news sources and internet posts even reported the quake being felt in Florida. One Twitter post stated, “Felt it here in Jax Florida.”

Florida experienced no direct fall-out (injury, damage, tsunami, or nuclear reactor leaks) from the recent quakes, nor is any expected. Aside from panicked calls to friends and relatives in other states, only some flight delays in and out of South Florida airports were experienced as a result of the earthquakes.

Earthquake danger in Florida is unlikely. In fact, according to the USGS, there are no fault lines around the state. Even the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti (roughly 750 miles from Florida) did not shake the state.

In a 2010 Sun Sentinel article, Florida International University geology professor, Grenville Draper said, “Florida is one of the most stable places on the planet,” “We have plenty of other things to worry about. Earthquakes are not among them.”

USGS maps (shown below) show the probability of seismic hazard for the vast majority of Florida to be almost nil. By contrast Virginia and the Trinidad, Co area show much higher chances of seismic hazard.

For more on Florida’s “minor shocks” and seismic action, see Florida Earthquake History, by the USGS.

Florida Earthquakes

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