In an interview last week for an unrelated story, Robert Yeats, a professor emeritus in geoscience at Oregon State University in Corvallis, said that an imminent big west coast earthquake concerned him far less than a "big one" that might occur in Haiti, due to the large fault near the capital city of Port-au-Prince—and the poverty-driven low level of earthquake-preparedness there.From Scientific American. I had Yeats at Oregon State for structural geology and for stress and deformation- both his area- and I think a couple of other classes as well. To make a small world look even smaller, he had started off at Ohio University in Athens. His son and I were in the same graduating high school class. Go AHS Rowdies 77! He also went into geology at OSU.
"If they have an earthquake on this fault that runs through Port-au-Prince," the death toll would be tremendous, he said January 6.
The above is a small excerpt from a two page article; it's well-worth reading. Spoiler: the magnitude of a quake is only one of the factors that influences the amount of destruction and death. And there are a number of other major cities that are at critical risk due to those other factors. SF and LA look pretty well-off by comparison.