Study Predicts Large California Quake Within 30 Years

May 24, 2008 10:33 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
California has released its first statewide earthquake forecast, predicting that it is “basically guaranteed” a large earthquake will strike within 30 years.

30-Second Summary

There is a 99.7 percent chance California will experience at least a magnitude 6.7 earthquake in the next three decades, according to the Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast.

The prediction is the result of the combined efforts of the U.S. Geological Survey, the Southern California Earthquake Center and the California Geological Survey, who analyzed new data to calculate earthquake probabilities in California.

Scientists aren’t sure where or when the earthquake will occur, but chances are high that it will be in Southern California.

That region has had fewer quakes in the last 100 years than Northern California.

The southernmost part of the San Andreas fault, which hasn’t had a “stress-relieving” earthquake since 1680, “appears most primed to break,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

One of the last major urban earthquakes in California was the 1994 Northridge quake, and scientists are concerned that the coming quake could be at least that severe.

Meanwhile, researchers are urging residents to get ready now. “A big earthquake can happen tomorrow or it can happen ten years from now,” one researcher who participated in the project said.

This new forecast will be used to update seismic hazard maps to keep residents informed of the areas that have the greatest vulnerability to property damage in the event of an earthquake.

Headline Links: Calculating earthquake probabilities

Historical Context: Major California earthquakes

Related Topic: Earthquakes around the world

Reference: What causes earthquakes?


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