What Can Be Done About the Faults and
Even though people cannot stop earthquakes from happening,
they can learn to live with the problems caused by earthquakes.
Three major lines of defense against earthquake hazards are being
developed. Buildings in earthquake-prone areas should be
designed and constructed to resist earthquake shaking. Building
codes that require attention to earthquake shaking have been
improving in recent decades and constitute a first line of
defense. In some cities, programs are underway to strengthen or
tear down older buildings most likely to collapse during
earthquakes. A second line of defense involves the selective use
of land to minimize the effects of hazardous ground. High-
occupancy or critical structures, for example, should not be
placed astride the San Andreas fault or on landslide-prone areas.
The third line of defense will be the accurate prediction of
earthquakes. When such prediction becomes possible, it will
permit timely evacuation of the most hazardous buildings. A
major program aimed at learning how to predict earthquakes and to
assess and minimize their hazards was initiated following the
Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977 and is being carried
out by the U.S. Geological Survey, other Federal Agencies,
universities, and private groups.
USGS survey team using a laser beam geodolite to monitor motion between fixed
points on either side of the San Andreas fault. Aircraft gathers information
on atmospheric conditions between geodolite and target several kilometers away.
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