Frankel (2004) argued that seismic hazard, defined as the maximum shaking predicted for sufficiently low probabilities of recurrence, or equivalently over sufficiently long time intervals, is comparable for sites in the New Madrid zone to that for sites in California. Many aspects of this argument are debatable, because it relies on assumptions about the size, recurrence, and shaking from future earthquakes, none of which is well known (Newman et al., 2001), and then makes inferences about the extreme and hence uncertain “tails” of the probability distribution presumed to characterize future ground motion (Wang and...

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