The Effect Of Earthquakes In The United

States On The Economy Essay, Research Paper

The Effect of Earthquakes in the United States on the Economy in Reference to Government Funds Spent on Prediction, and Hazard Prevention

Over the period of many years, earthquakes have had a major effect on the economy of the United States of America. In this paper I plan to discuss how earthquakes have an effect on the economy. And what type of effect (positive or negative) earthquakes have on the economy.

Earthquakes are violent trembling of the ground that are caused by the slipping of a fault. A fault is a huge crack in the earth’s outermost crust. The slipping is caused when stress builds up in one spot to a level sufficient to overcome the forces resisting the slipping of that fault. The slipping causes seismic waves to radiate from around the source (also called the epicenter). These waves cause the vibratory motions that cause the destruction to property.

Earthquakes are measured on the Richter Scale. This scale, developed by seismologist Charles Richter, measures the magnitude of the earthquakes on a scale of one to nine. (Earthquake! 126) One being not felt by humans, and nine signifying total destruction.

Earthquakes have forced the government to stipend billions of dollars for earthquake hazard prevention, the establishment of and compliance with building codes requirements, prediction programs, and recovery programs.

In nineteen eighty-nine a gentleman named Steve Starkey began an earthquake hazard prevention program with one purpose. To “earthquake proof” all the bridges along the Oregon coast. (Wuethrich 1802-03) To accomplish this, he first had to record statistics on the earthquake hazard facing the region. (Wuethrich 1802-03) So the re-evaluation of the earthquake hazard in Oregon was necessary. This discovery lead to a three hundred thousand-dollar analysis by the San Francisco engineering firm Geomatrix Consultants. (Wuethrich 1802-03) As a result the bridges are in the process of being repaired. Though one of the well known programs, this is not the only program created to re-assess buildings for their stamina against earthquakes. The Earthquake Hazards Reduction/Passage authorized two hundred twelve million dollars to be spent over a two-year period (1997-98) to perform geological research, to develop better building standards to minimize the impact of earthquakes, and to test the vitality of already standing buildings. (House 2256)

The government also uses federal monies to commission people to inspect buildings for their compliance with building codes. These building codes have been implemented to prevent buildings from being destroyed and people from being hurt during a major earthquake. These codes include but are not limited to: suspending buildings from chains, suspending or hanging objects from the roof, and seating objects on high rocks and blocks. (Design1)

There are three methods that stood out as perhaps the most practical. They are isolation, energy dampening, and active control. (Design1)

The principle of active control is small censors are placed all over the building that control the response produced by a mechanical actuator. Theoretically this principle is fine but there are some technical problems concerning this system. One problem would be system failure. If the system were to fail the building would most likely collapse from lack of readiness. A second problem would be cost. A system of this nature would cost millions of dollars to produce. Therefore making it non-economical for small businesses. (Design 1)

Isolation and energy absorbers are basically the same things. They isolate the building, or dampen the building from the shock of the earthquake. This idea is often used in nuclear power although it’s very costly. (Design 1)

Prediction techniques have also taken a big “chunk” out of federal funds. Although there is no “airtight” way to predict earthquakes, many scientists and seismologists have come up with some ways they believe can predict earthquakes.

“The goal of prediction is to be able to forecast the location, strength, and time of occurrence of earthquakes, says Grolier’s Multimedia Encyclopedia. One of the more prominent prediction techniques is called Statistical Analysis. (Gray 4) In Statistical Analysis, the earthquake history of a given place is studied to see if there is a recurrent or cyclical pattern. Based on these predictions a long-term prediction can most likely be made. (Gray 4)

This technique was demonstrated after the earthquake in Friuli, Italy. An unexpected earthquake hit on the sixth of May in nineteen seventy-six. All buildings were completely or badly damaged. After the quake a scientist wondered if this earthquake could have been predicted. So he decided to check the history of Italy for any earthquakes with like magnitudes. He discovered that there were twenty other earthquakes with similar magnitudes and similar intervals between them. (Gray 4) He concluded his research with the fact that any expert could have predicted this earthquake. (Gray 4)

Another prediction method, which is still in experimental stages, is capturing seismologist attention all over the world. It works on the theory that the rocks along the epicenter emit small currents of electricity before an earthquake. (Shocker 1) It is their theory that these currents can be used to predict major earthquakes before they happen. This method is still in it’s experimental and will cost millions of dollars to fully develop it. (Shocker 1)

All these programs and laws relate to the economy because they are some of the many bills and acts that earthquakes force the government to spend money from the budget on. After researching my topic, I found that by forcing the government to constantl spend budget money on problems caused by earthquakes, earthquakes have had a detrimental effect on the economy of the United States and have caused taxpayers billions of dollars. Therefore causing a negative effect on the economy of the United States.


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