The magnitude-7.8 earthquake that shook Nepal on Saturday has focused the world’s attention on the devastating effects of these natural disasters.
The magnitude-7.8 earthquake that hit just outside Kathmandu, Nepal, on Saturday may have occurred on the opposite side of the planet from most Americans, but a natural disaster of that power could easily happen within the United States. Just last week, the Seismological Society of America reported that more than 143 million Americans in the lower 48 states are susceptible to some form of damage from earthquakes in their lifetime.
The West Coast experiences far more earthquakes than the East Coast, and 81 percent of the world's largest earthquakes occur along the Pacific Rim.

Scientists have repeatedly said that the chances of a major earthquake occurring within the lifetime of current residents in California and the Pacific Northwest are significant.
A study published to the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America last year showed that four faults in California that comprise the San Andreas Fault system -- the Hayward Fault, Rodgers Creek Fault, Green Valley Fault and Calaveras Fault -- have built up enough tension to trigger major earthquakes. The odds look even worse for the Pacific Northwest, as Oregon, Washington and Northern California face an 80 percent chance of a major earthquake occurring along the southern end of the powerful 680-mile-long Cascadia fault that runs just 50 miles off the coast. Alaska endures the most earthquakes of any state but they inflict relatively little damage due to the state's low population.

In 1994, an earthquake of that size near Los Angeles, known as the Northridge quake, killed 60 people while injuring 7,000.
This map on life expectancy shows the highest anticipated life expectancy for the year 2025.

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