Recent Earthquakes Cause Concern for Data Center Customers

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This past month alone, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported 17 “significant” earthquakes around the globe.  The recent magnitude-8.2 earthquake in Chile, the 5.8 in Panama, and the multiple earthquakes in Southern California have people wondering if they’re related and whether activity will increase. Although experts believe the odds are against this spate of events being connected, data center customers remain concerned nonetheless.

However, what all these earthquakes do have in common is they’re located along the notorious “circum-Pacific seismic belt,” the world’s greatest earthquake belt.  Also called the “Ring of Fire,” this seismic belt runs along the Pacific Ocean from New Zealand to Chile and is where 81% of the world’s biggest earthquakes originate.  In fact, the deadly 2011 Japan disastrous tsunami resulted from an earthquake in this area.

Concern for Organizations in Earthquake Prone Areas – West Coast

For U.S. companies, the California earthquakes are especially troubling.  The USGS calculates Southern California experiences over 27 earthquakes each day.  Although most can’t be felt, the fact that they occur in the first place can be unsettling for both residents and businesses in the area.

The San Andreas Fault has been the earthquake zone getting the most attention over the years.  However, experts think the lesser-known Puente Hills thrust fault could do more damage.  Activity in this fault was responsible for the recent 5.1 earthquake in La Habra, California.  Over 100 aftershocks occurred from northern Orange County to Hollywood.

Given the heavily populated area, a magnitude-7.5 earthquake could be especially catastrophic.  In addition to the tragic loss of life, the USGS estimates a large earthquake in this fault area could cause as much as $250 billion in damage.

In essence, these facilities use giant shock absorbers to protect them.

Select a Data Center Outside Earthquake Zones

As can be expected, earthquake mitigation systems can be expensive. The complexity and cost increases significantly from equipment systems to building-level solutions.  These costs get passed on to the data center’s customers.

Other factors to consider include how prepared the data center is for a disaster like an earthquake.  Even if the facility houses the most sophisticated mitigation systems, a long-term power outage from an earthquake carries additional risk.  For example, fuel supplies for generators may be in short supply and/or they might have to endure pricing surges.

What’s the best protection from earthquakes and other natural disasters?  The easiest and most economical disaster recovery solution is to select a data center located in a disaster-free market.  Phoenix and San Antonio provide two great examples of sites free from earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and other major natural disasters that could cripple an operation.

For more information about disaster recovery solutions, visit