Earthquake risk assessment has been described as “a game of chance of which we still don't know all the rules” (Lomnitz, 1989). This challenge is illustrated by attempts to estimate the seismic hazard for parts of the central U.S. due to earthquakes in the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ). The U.S. Geological Survey National Seismic Hazard Maps predict that the seismic hazard in the area is surprisingly high, in some ways exceeding that in California. These predictions reflect crucial parameter assumptions, many of which have considerable uncertainty due to the absence of instrumental data from any but small...

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