Skip to main content
Geosciences LibreTexts

7.4.14: Summary and a Word about the Future

  • Page ID
    6447
  • Overview

    NEHRP, NASA’s Earth Systems Enterprises, and NOAA’s Tsunami Mitigation Program are mission-oriented, applied programs, not basic research programs. In the words of Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D., Maryland), this is strategic rather than curiosity-driven research. And yet NEHRP has been responsible for fundamental discoveries not only about earthquakes but about how the earth deforms and behaves through time. Not only this, but NEHRP has brought about world leadership in earthquake science for the United States since its beginning in the 1970s. Most of what has been presented in this book is the result of research funded by the U.S. and Canadian federal governments. The U.S. earthquake program is the best in the world, even though it has not yet been able to weave an understanding of earthquake science and engineering into the fabric of society.

     

    But U.S. leadership is now being challenged by the Japanese. The cost of the 1995 Kobe Earthquake was ten times the cost of the Northridge Earthquake the preceding year, and an additional cost was to the confidence of the Japanese in coping with the earthquake peril throughout most of their country. Accordingly, the Japanese government has ratcheted up its budget for earthquake hazards research to a much higher level than the American program, or that of any other country, possibly because so much of their country—including the capital city of Tokyo—is at great risk from earthquakes. The U.S. responded to the Northridge Earthquake with a one-year special appropriation with no long-range follow-up but instead an attempt by the Republican Congress in 1995 to dissolve the USGS, the principal agency responsible for earthquake research. If inflation is taken into account, the funding for the earthquake program is lower in real dollars than it was in 1977, when NEHRP started.

     

    Perhaps this is because earthquakes are still perceived as a California problem, despite the fact that earthquakes have caused great damage in Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington, including the $2 billion Nisqually Earthquake. Most people, if asked to list the things they would like the federal government to do, would not list earthquakes in the top ten, unless they live in an area that was recently struck by an earthquake, such as Olympia or Seattle. Because of this prevailing public attitude, leadership in earthquake studies may return to where it was at the beginning of the twentieth century, to Japan.


    Suggestions for Further Reading

    Cassidy, J. F., G. C. Rogers, J. Adams, D. McCormick, and T. Onur. 2003. New opportunities for Canadian earthquake monitoring information and research. Geological Survey of     Canada 2003-H3, available on GSC website.

    Cassidy, J. F., G. C. Rogers, and R. D. Hyndman. 2003. The Pacific Geoscience Centre and one hundred years of seismological studies on Canada’s west coast, in Jennings, P.,     H. Kanamori, and W. H. K. Lee, eds., International Handbook of Earthquake and Engineering Seismology, in press, CD-ROM.

    Crosson, R. S. 1972. Small earthquakes, structure, and tectonics of the Puget Sound region. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, v. 62, p. 1133-71.

    FEMA. 2001. HAZUS99, Estimated annualized earthquake losses for the United States. FEMA366, February 2001, available online from FEMA.

    FEMA Region X. 2002. Earthquake hazard mitigation handbook for public facilities, 99 p.

    Geschwind, C.-H. 2001. California Earthquakes: Science, Risk, and the Politics of Hazard Mitigation, 1906–1977. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. The story of the U.S.     earthquake program from the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake to the establishment of NEHRP in 1977.

    Hanks, T. C. 1985. The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program—scientific status. USGS Bulletin 1659, 40 p.

    Ludwin, R. S., C. S. Weaver, and R. S. Crosson. 1991. Seismicity of Washington and Oregon: Geological Society of America Decade of North American Geology, Decade Map     Volume 1, chapter 6, p. 77-98.

    Ludwin, R. S., A. I. Qamar, S. D. Malone, C. Jonientz-Trisler, R. S. Crosson, R. Benson, and S. C. Moran. 1994. Earthquake hypocenters in Washington and northern Oregon,     1987-1989, and operation of the Washington Regional Seismograph Network. Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources Information Circular 89, 40 p.

    Milne, W. G., G. C. Rogers, R. P. Riddihough, G. A. McMechan, and R. D. Hyndman. 1978. Seismicity of western Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 15, p. 1170-93.

    National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program. 2003. Expanding and using knowledge to reduce earthquake losses: Strategic plan 2001-2005. FEMA Document 383, 66 p.     Available online from FEMA.

    Office of Technology Assessment, Congress of the United States. 1995. Reducing earthquake losses. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, OTA-ETI-623, 162 p.

    Page, R. A., D. M. Boore, R. C. Bucknam, and W. R. Thatcher. 1992. Goals, opportunities, and priorities for the USGS Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program. USGS Circular     1079, 60 p.

    Plafker, G., and J. P. Galloway. 1989. Lessons learned from the Loma Prieta, California, Earthquake of October 17, 1989. USGS Circular 1045, 48 p.

    Scott, S., interviewer. 1999. Robert E. Wallace: Connections, the EERI Oral History Series. Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, OSH-6

    Stein, S., J. Tomasello, and A. Newman. 2003. Should Memphis build for California’s earthquakes? EOS Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, v. 84, p. 177, 184-85.     Responses by A. D. Frankel and S. E. Hough in EOS Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, v. 84, p. 271-72.

    USGS. 1996. USGS response to an urban earthquake: Northridge ’94. USGS Open-File Report 96-263, 78 p.