Paleoseismological study of geologic features thought to result from Quaternary tectonic faulting can characterize the frequencies and sizes of large prehistoric and historical earthquakes, thereby improving the accuracy and precision of seismic-hazard assessments. Greater accuracy and precision can reduce the likelihood of both underprotection and unnecessary design and construction costs. Published studies proposed Quaternary tectonic faulting at 31 faults, folds, seismic zones, and fields of earthquake-induced liquefaction phenomena in the Appalachian Mountains and Coastal Plain. Of the 31 features, seven are of known origin. Four of the seven have nontectonic origins and the other three features are liquefaction fields caused by moderate to large historical and Holocene earthquakes in coastal South Carolina, including Charleston; the Central Virginia Seismic Zone; and the Newbury, Massachusetts, area. However, the causal faults of the three liquefaction fields remain unclear. Charleston has the highest hazard because of large Holocene earthquakes in that area, but the hazard is highly uncertain because the earthquakes are uncertainly located. Of the 31 features, the remaining 24 are of uncertain origin. They require additional work before they can be clearly attributed either to Quaternary tectonic faulting or to nontectonic causes. Of these 24, 14 features, most of them faults, have little or no published geologic evidence of Quaternary tectonic faulting that could indicate the likely occurrence of earthquakes larger than those observed historically. Three more features of the 24 were suggested to have had Quaternary tectonic faulting, but paleoseismological and other studies of them found no evidence of large prehistoric earthquakes. The final seven features of uncertain origin require further examination because all seven are in or near urban areas. They are the Moodus Seismic Zone (Hartford, Connecticut), Dobbs Ferry fault zone and Mosholu fault (New York City), Lancaster Seismic Zone and the epicenter of the shallow Cacoosing Valley earthquake (Lancaster and Reading, Pennsylvania), Kingston fault (central New Jersey between New York and Philadelphia), and Everona fault-Mountain Run fault zone (Washington, D.C., and Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia). ?? 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Quaternary tectonic faulting in the Eastern United States