Shaky City

Scientists recently predicted that a strong and deadly earthquake is virtually certain to strike on one of California’s major seismic faults within the next 30 years. They calculated the probability at more than 99 percent that one or more of the major faults in the state will rupture and trigger a quake with a magnitude of at least 6.7. An even more damaging quake with a magnitude of 7.5 or larger, the earthquake scientists said, is at least 46 percent likely to hit on one of California’s active fault systems within the next three decades. It probably would strike in the southern part of the state, the scientists warned.

Quakes like those would be similar in magnitude to such deadly temblors as the Loma Prieta, which claimed 63 lives and caused at least $10 billion in damage in 1989, and the Northridge quake in the San Fernando Valley in 1994, which killed 57 people and caused more than $12.5 billion in damage.

California, riven by thousands of faults that extend many miles deep into the Earth’s crust, is one of the world’s most seismically active regions. Two huge tectonic segments of the Earth’s crust – the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate – move constantly past each other at about 40 millimeters, or 1 1/2 inches, each year, forming a great clashing boundary where stresses build up along all the state’s faults. That buildup of stress on any single fault after its most recent rupture and the average time between the fault’s past quakes help scientists forecast the probability that stress will rupture the fault again and release an earthquake’s power.

Don’t wait thirty years to get ready!

Prepare now:

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