The highest death rates in earthquakes of the past 120 years occurred in locations in the continental interior, where shaking was not necessarily anticipated. A concerted effort is therefore needed to map faults and seismic risk away from the known earthquake zones argues a Commentary online this week in Nature Geoscience.Philip England and James Jackson classify by location 130 earthquakes of the past 120 years that killed more than 1,000 people. Those in well-known seismic zones on plate boundaries caused about 800,000 deaths, whereas those in less expected locations in the continental interior killed around 1.4 million people. Furthermore, death rates among people exposed to severe shaking were substantially higher in the continental interior.The authors urge to focus scientific priority on mapping seismic risk in interior regions, such as the Alpine-Himalayan region that stretches across Eurasia, so that societies at risk can make informed decisions on where to concentrate their resources for improvements in resilience.
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