November 13th is The Great Shakeout. I highly recommend that all Californians check out the site.
Here’s why. Really smart people have run lots of analysis on lots of data and determined that the next big quake in California is most likely going to occur on the bottom third of the San Andreas Fault, and that there’s enough built-up stress that the quake in question is going to be a doozy. Here’s what a 7.8 quake looks like, originating at the Salton Sea and traveling north up through the Cajon Pass:
All that crazy red shimmy action after the first wave hits in the Los Angeles basin is due to the ground consistency.
The Great Southern California ShakeOut is based on a potential magnitude 7.8 earthquake on the southern San Andreas Fault— approximately 5,000 times larger than the magnitude 5.4 earthquake that shook southern California on July 29. It’s not a matter of if an earthquake of this size will happen—but when. And it is possible that it will happen in our lifetime.
Dr. Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey has led a group of over 300 scientists, engineers, and others to study the likely consequences of this potential earthquake in great detail. The result is the ShakeOut Earthquake Scenario, which is also the basis of this year’s statewide emergency response exercise, Golden Guardian 2008.
In an earthquake of this size, the shaking will last for nearly two minutes. The strongest shaking will occur near the fault (in the projected earthquake, the Coachella Valley, Inland Empire and Antelope Valley). Pockets of strong shaking will form away from the fault where sediments trap the waves (in the projected earthquake, it would occur in the San Gabriel Valley and in East Los Angeles).
An earthquake of this size will cause unprecedented damage to Southern California—greatly dwarfing the massive damage that occurred in Northridge’s 6.7-magnitude earthquake in 1994. In summary, the ShakeOut Scenario estimates this earthquake will cause some 2,000 deaths, 50,000 injuries, $200 billion in damage and other losses, and severe, long-lasting disruption. The report has regional implications and is a dramatic call to action for preparedness.
Ground movement at the fault is projected to be between 10 and 20 feet. Since the fault zig-zags under the 15 freeway on the way through the pass, it’s likely that the freeway, the rail line, and the aqueduct are all going to be significantly hosed… and the repairs will take months. Expect no power, running water, or phone service for a while.
Scary stuff… do yourself a favor and freak out a little now. Buy an earthquake kit. Learn how to turn off the gas at your house, or building. Figure out how to get in touch with family members (keeping in mind that the cell network is going to be completely useless). There will be aftershocks. This is our Katrina… when it happens. I’m officially telling you now, if it keeps on rainin’, the levee is going to break. You need to be prepared.
For my family, I’m sending you guys some additional stuff that you really should read…