The Arizona Geological Survey has announced the release of its new hazard viewer. The site is a compilation of data on earthquakes, faults, earth fissures and wildfires in the state.

The survey originally planned the site for first responders, but later decided the general public is also in need of this information. Visitors to the site can view a statewide map of natural hazards, or they can type in an address to find local hazards.

It is possible to click on a particular event -for instance an earthquake- to get further information, including links to articles and tips for being prepared in advance for earthquakes.

“Every one of the layers has a mitigation section that we hope people will come in to take a look at and apply to their own circumstances,” said Michael Conway, chief of the AZGS Geological Extension Service.

Earth fissures are some of the hazards people can see on the site. These are tension cracks in the earth that form where the land has subsided. More than 1100 square miles of the state have lost elevation, in some cases by many feet.

This land subsidence can occur around oil fields, but is happening across the Southwest and in Arizona because people are using groundwater faster than it can be replenished naturally.

Land subsidence can change flood patterns, the flow of streams, and lead to earth fissures, which can damage roads, underground utilities and other private and public property. It is now required that private sellers report the existence of earth fissures, potentially impacting property values.

When the Ground Splits Open...

September is also national earthquake preparedness month. While earthquakes are infrequent, they can occur in the state, and at high magnitudes.

Approximately 90,000 Arizonans have signed up to take part in an event to learn what to do in case of an earthquake. The Great Arizona ShakeOut will last about two minutes, at 10:17 a.m. on Oct. 17. Those residents, along with approximately 130 million participants taking part in the nation-wide event, will practice a drop, cover and hold drill. To enroll or to get more information about the event, or about earthquake preparedness, visit their website.