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U.S. Risk and Earthquake Insurance

A basic homeowner’s insurance policy in the U.S. does not cover earthquake related loss or damage. Although 90% of the country's population lives in seismically active areas, only a fraction are covered by earthquake insurance. Even in California, the majority of the state’s homeowners opt out. A common perception is that earthquake insurance costs too much and offers little coverage. But the problem of earthquake risk is national: 38 other states face substantial earthquake hazards, including 46 million people in metropolitan areas

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Tajikistan, Mudbrick Homes and Earthquake Insurance

Thousands of people in the Vanch region of Tajikistan are homeless in the wake of Saturday’s magnitude 5.3 earthquake. The quake caused massive damage, even though its size is considered “moderate.” Major damage and/or outright collapse of roughly 1,050 mudbrick homes in the wake of the quake have left 20,000 people without shelter. Two schools and a clinic were also destroyed, and electricity supplies and communications were cut off by the quake. The quake came as the Central Asian nation is approaching its coldest time of the year, with temperatures going down to -20 degrees Celsius.

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Public Health and Earthquakes

More than a million earthquakes worldwide occur each year. That’s about two earthquakes a minute. More than 900 of those are potentially damaging (magnitude 5 or greater) earthquakes. With OpenHazards.com tools, you can learn more about where those damaging earthquakes are likely to strike, and make decisions about whether and how to prepare.

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Disaster Planning and Data

Data collection, storage and retrieval are vital functions of any modern business, large or small. In the United States, 99% of roughly 29.6 million businesses are small firms (fewer than 500 employees). We would expect that most of the country’s 18,000 large corporations to have hardened data facilities with bullet-proof business continuity plans – and given the high level of reliance on data integrity, that small businesses would follow suit. But that’s not necessarily the case. For example, Symantec recently published the

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Taiwan Earthquake Update

Here's our first update on the December 19, 2009 Taiwan earthquake: OpenHazards Group, Inc. has translated reports from the China Times, which features excerpts from other Chinese newspapers.

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OpenHazards Accurately Predicted Today's Earthquake in Taiwan

The Open Hazards Group accurately predicted the damaging earthquake that struck Taiwan Saturday evening at 9:02 pm. A screen shot of the forecast shows the openhazards.com forecast details. The contour plot shows earthquake probability and the blue marker depicts the epicenter of the actual quake.  The forecast was posted to our website before the earthquake occurred.  An aftershock forecast will be available on our website after midnight California time when our site updates worldwide forecasting.

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Geophysical Connections

The annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco has been a part of my life for over 35 years.  Held annually in December, the AGU meeting has grown from a small group of several hundred scientists to a gathering of over 14,000 in that span of time. 

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Space Frame

What do most modern motorcycles, cars, highway signs, some tall buildings, domed arenas and modernist style industrial and commercial buildings have in common? The space frame: a lightweight, rigid frame made of interlocking bars or rods (struts). Arranged in a geometric pattern, the struts in a space frame building provide stability, strength and resistance to rotation or movement due to external forces such as strong wind or ground motion.

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URM Bearing Wall

An unreinforced masonry (URM) bearing wall is a URM wall that provides vertical support for the floor or roof of a structure. URM buildings are not strengthened (reinforced) with embedded steel bars, which makes them extremely hazardous in seismically active regions. Materials used in these kinds of buildings are generally unreinforced adobe, clay, concrete or concrete block, brick, or rubble. These buildings are popular all over the world, even though they tend to collapse in strong earthquakes.

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Bearing Shear Wall

A bearing shear wall is another term used by structural engineers and builders to describe a type of wall, or actually a wall system designed to provide strength to a building by transferring stress to the foundation.

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