Earthquakes can be terrifying destructive. In 2010 and 2011 I experienced the powerful earthquakes that inflicted widespread destruction in Christchurch, New Zealand (the subject of a cover story in The Chief Engineer, in June, 2012).
Usually, earthquakes strike at the boundaries of the Earth’s tectonic plates. But not always: In August 2011 a magnitude 5.8 quake with its epicenter in Virginia came as a surprise, and caused considerable damage to the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. So nowhere is safe. Engineering can make cities everywhere safer, saving lives and billions of dollars for the economy.