State of the Art for Assessing Earthquake Hazards in the United States. Report 5. Plate Tectonics and Earthquake Assessment,
ARMY ENGINEER WATERWAYS EXPERIMENT STATION VICKSBURG MISS
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The emerging theory of plate tectonics, embodying continental drift, seafloor spreading, transform faults, subduction of lithospheric plates, and other basic tenets, provides earth scientists with a reasonably coherent and workable explanation of the occurrence and distribution of earthquakes. It explains the tectonic origin of belts of major seismic activity throughout the United States and provides a consistent pattern into which focal mechanisms of major earthquakes can be fitted. It provides a framework into which a wide variety of observations of geology and geophysics can be assimilated. In short, it is a unifying concept long sought by earth scientists.