October 14 2014 – Is New England’s seacoast ready for an earthquake?

Is New England’s seacoast ready for an earthquake?

Since 1975 moderate size earthquakes have occurred in New Brunswick, New Hampshire, northern New York and Quebec.

“Drop, cover and hold on.”

It’s a message that likely hasn’t reached most New Englanders who rarely worry about the dangers of a major earthquake happening here. But the threat is real.

“Definitely the risk in this area is significantly greater than most people think,” said Margaret Boettcher, an assistant professor of geophysics at the University of New Hampshire who has researched the physics of earthquakes and the mechanics of fault slip.

Seacoast emergency officials agree there is a danger and people should take it seriously. While strong earthquakes are rare here, history has shown that they can happen and could pose a significant threat to many of the region’s historic buildings that were constructed long before codes were put in place to protect against seismic activity. The old brick buildings in places like Exeter and Portsmouth are at greatest risk, officials say.

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