Throughout the state, there are more than 100 active faults that have produced earthquakes resulting in widespread damage and deaths. In Southern California alone, since 1933, there have been 23 significant quakes of magnitude 5.9 or greater. The San Andreas Fault, the major fault line running through California, is expected to be the source for a major earthquake. It was the source for the earthquake that leveled San Francisco in 1906.
Water infrastructure is vulnerable to earthquakes:
* In the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, man-made levees dating back to 1850 are identified as at risk when a major earthquake hits.
* The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates a magnitude 7.8 temblor on the southern portion of the San Andreas Fault will cause major damage to infrastructure, including water lines and dams.
A panel of experts in Southern California also has identified the following risks as a result of a major earthquake:
* Likely major damage to the main aqueducts bringing water to Southern California from Northern California and the Colorado River. Repairs may be hampered due to damaged roads and large-scale fires.
* In the following days after a major quake, there may be no water available due to infrastructure breaks and loss of power. After that, repairs will bring supplies online slowly.
Water districts and agencies have prepared earthquake preparedness and emergency plans to address the emergency.
Also, groundwater basins will be used as emergency reservoirs to make up the water shortages when imported supplies are unavailable.
When the Big One hits California – and seismologists say it’s not if, but when – there might not be blaring sirens or vibrating phones giving people a precious few seconds to prepare. … California’s earthquake warning system, long discussed and partially built, remains incomplete and in limbo.
The 7.1 magnitude earthquake that shattered buildings and left more than 200 dead in and around Mexico City is another powerful reminder of what could happen when — not if — another major temblor strikes the Bay Area.
Scientists say it’s possible for Southern California to be hit by a magnitude 8.2 earthquake. Such a quake would be far more destructive to the Los Angeles area because the San Andreas fault runs very close to and underneath densely populated areas. … The aqueducts that bring in 88% of Los Angeles’ water supply and cross the San Andreas fault all could be damaged or destroyed, [Lucy] Jones said.
San Diego’s Rose Canyon fault is capable of producing a magnitude 6.9 earthquake that could kill 2,000 people and inflict $40 billion in property damage, according to a preliminary study sponsored by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. … The shaking would break scores of water and sewer lines, possibly causing wastewater to spill into San Diego and Mission Bays.
One day, next to the traffic map and weather forecast on your smartphone, seismologist Thomas H. Jordan envisions an app that you can check to see when the chances of a major earthquake in California rise. Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center, is quick to make clear this is not an earthquake prediction.
For years, scientists have drawn up terrifying scenarios of widespread destruction and chaos that would come to Southern California when a catastrophic earthquake hits. … While epic flooding is different from a powerful temblor, both natural disasters fundamentally alter daily life for months or years.
Congress has been pushing back against cuts in seismic safety funding proposed in President Trump’s budget. First, a congressional panel voted last week to keep funding a West Coast earthquake early warning system that could have been shut down under the proposed budget.
Engineers will use UC San Diego’s shake table to subject a two-story structure to the forces produced by the 6.7 Northridge earthquake to look for ways to design tall wood buildings that can survive big temblors.
The historically restless Mammoth Lakes area has experienced more than 150 tiny and small earthquakes over the past week, including a magnitude 3.0 temblor that hit at 7:13 p.m. on Monday, says the USGS.
Elected officials from both parties have supported an earthquake early warning system for the West Coast that, after years of work, was scheduled to begin its first limited public operation next year. … One of the system’s biggest proponents is a Republican congressman who has an influential role in shaping the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey.
Experts can’t predict earthquakes, but they can warn you that they’re coming. For a dozen years, West Coast scientists working with the United States Geological Survey have been developing an earthquake early warning system — called ShakeAlert — that could provide anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes of warning not only about the shaking that’s imminent but also about its intensity.
In 2015, Steven Horowitz was watching one of the summer’s big blockbuster action flicks, San Andreas. In the movie, the San Andreas fault shifts, triggering a magnitude 9.6 earthquake in San Francisco. Disaster ensues — and for the rest of the movie we watch as all of the West Coast’s greatest landmarks are destroyed one by one in an epic, computer-generated spectacle.
New research released this week found that a fault under the heart of San Diego can produce stronger and more frequent earthquakes than previously thought. It’s the second study in recent months pointing to heightened quake risks in the San Diego area.
President Trump’s budget would eliminate federal funding for an earthquake early warning system being developed for California and the rest of the West Coast which, if enacted, probably would kill the long-planned effort. The budget proposal for the year ending in September 2018 also seeks to eliminate U.S. funding for critical tsunami-monitoring stations in oceans and reduce funds for a next-generation weather forecasting system.
New earthquake sensing stations are being installed in the ground, software is being improved, and operators are being hired to make sure the system is properly staffed, Caltech seismologist Egill Hauksson said at a joint meeting of the Japan Geoscience Union and American Geophysical Union.
The Santa Monica City Council on Tuesday passed the nation’s most extensive seismic retrofitting effort, which will require safety improvements to as many as 2,000 buildings suspected to be vulnerable in an earthquake.
The Newport-Inglewood fault has long been considered one of Southern California’s top seismic danger zones because it runs under some of the region’s most densely populated areas, from the Westside of Los Angeles to the Orange County coast.
After all, California was soaked with ridiculous amounts of rain this winter and then over the past week, dry, warm weather, with temps in the 80s recorded in some places, has baked the state. Could these extreme conditions trigger seismic activity?
The discovery of missing links between earthquake faults shows how a magnitude 7.4 earthquake could rupture in the same temblor underneath Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, a new study finds.
The Scripps Institution of Oceanography has re-characterized the Newport-Inglewood and Rose Canyon faults, saying that they represent a single system that could produce a magnitude 7.3 quake if their offshore segments ruptured. Scientists also say that the quake could hit 7.4 if the southern section of the system, which cuts through parts of San Diego, also broke.
Southern California could be overdue for a major earthquake along the Grapevine north of Los Angeles, according to a sobering new study by the U.S. Geological Survey. The research found earthquakes happen there on average every 100 years.
In its annual national earthquake outlook, the U.S. Geological Survey reported Wednesday that a large portion of Oklahoma and parts of central California have the highest risk for a damaging quake this year: between 5 and 12 percent. The outlook is published in the journal Seismological Research Letters.
Reflecting problems at other aging reservoirs, a $200 million project to drain and repair one of the Bay Area’s largest dams to reduce the risk of it collapsing in a major earthquake will double in cost and be delayed by at least two more years.
A powerful magnitude 6.5 earthquake rocked the Northern California coast Thursday morning. … Seismologist Lucy Jones said the earthquake early Thursday was on the Pacific-Gorda plate on the end of the San Andreas Fault.
Update: The following information has been posted by the Redwood Coast Tsunami Work Group: An update on this morning’s earthquake: • Magnitude revised to 6.5 • 98 miles WNW of Petrolia, 100 miles W of Ferndale, 105 miles WSW of Eureka
While most spend their Thanksgiving holiday visiting family and friends around a table of delicious food, Humboldt State geology department chair Mark Hemphill-Haley took off early for a 10-day reconnaissance mission examining New Zealand’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Nov. 13.
A 7.8 earthquake along the infamous San Andreas fault hit Southern California at 3:10 a.m. Monday. … Fortunately, this is only a drill to ensure that emergency response agencies will be ready when – not if, according to experts – the Big One hits.
The Long Beach quake, the deadliest in Southern California history, focused attention like never before on the seismic dangers the region faces. But a new study suggests that the quake may have been caused by another factor: Deep drilling in an oil field in Huntington Beach.
The Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society will officially form in January, but Jones is already working with the Southern California Association of Governments and the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California to help governments and businesses prepare for a major earthquake so they can get back on their feet quickly once the damage is done.
The swarm of temblors in late September beneath the Salton Sea put Los Angeles on heightened alert and caused public officials to remind Angelenos about stockpiling water, shutting off gas valves, and remembering to “drop and cover.”
Scientists in California have found that earthquakes can occur much deeper below the Earth’s surface than originally believed, a discovery that alters their understanding of seismic behavior and potential risks.
Southern Californians learn to live with the risk of earthquakes. But over the last week, anxieties were particularly heightened, and the natural denial that is part of living in earthquake country was harder to pull off.
It’s been about eight years since the Salton Sea was the epicenter of a swarm of earthquakes, but the abundance of temblors doesn’t necessarily indicate a larger one to come, a renowned seismologist says.
Researchers at the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory and the campus department of earth and planetary sciences gained new insight into the movement of tectonic plates as a result of the multi-year study published Friday in the journal Science.
UC San Diego has found evidence that large earthquakes can quickly produce powerful and potentially dangerous aftershocks on nearby faults, an insight that could aid experts planning for how to deal with seismic hazards in California.
In the Bay Area, more than $22 billion in infrastructure upgrades since Loma Prieta have built a metropolitan area that is far safer and far more resilient than before. Major water pipes are now designed to bend, not break.
Facing threats of earthquakes, wildfires and floods, almost 200 Southern California cities depend too much on big government to protect them, which will lead to slower recovery time when “the big one” hits, according to experts on disaster preparedness.
U.S. Bureau of Land Management senior geologist Gregg Wilkerson was happy to respond Wednesday to a new study showing the Bakersfield area slowly sinking and other areas in California slowly rising as a result of seismic strain from the San Andreas Fault.
Cutting beneath the lower Mississippi River, the New Madrid fault is a T-shaped geological hazard that is primed for a fierce tremor. A magnitude 7.7 earthquake where the fault crosses the Missouri-Tennessee border would be devastating, snapping water distribution pipes and toppling power lines in seven states, as far as 200 miles from the epicenter.
For the first time, scientists have produced a computer image showing huge sections of California rising and sinking around the San Andreas fault. …The breakthrough accomplished by [Sam] Howell and his team involved writing a computer code that filtered out how the land was rising or falling from non-seismic factors.
Findings published in the journal Nature Geoscience indicate a “small-amplitude, but spatially considerable, coherent pattern of uplift and subsidence straddling the fault system in southern California.”
The Pacific Northwest kicks off a massive earthquake and tsunami drill Tuesday as part of a multiday event to rehearse scenarios on how the region would deal with a dual natural disaster that could kill thousands, cut off coastal communities, and collapse phone and internet service.
On Tuesday, as many as 20,000 people across Washington, Oregon, California and Idaho, mainly federal employees, will begin a four-day exercise called “Cascadia Rising” — a trial run at responding to a massive magnitude 9.0 quake on the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the northwest coast near here, and the tsunami that would inevitably accompany it.
Southern California’s section of the San Andreas fault is “locked, loaded and ready to roll,” a leading earthquake scientist said Wednesday at the National Earthquake Conference in Long Beach. … Other areas of focus have included strengthening Los Angeles’ vulnerable aqueduct systems and its telecommunications networks.
Scientists say the Sierra’s eastern front is long overdue for a large earthquake along the California-Nevada line, where a magnitude-7 event expected on average every 30 years hasn’t occurred in six decades.
In a significant step for the largest reservoir project in the Bay Area in 20 years, workers have finished building the spillway — a massive concrete channel as wide as eight lanes of freeway and a quarter mile long — at Calaveras Dam near the Alameda-Santa Clara county line.
The Rancho California Water District is looking into the feasibility of building a new dam at Vail Lake to augment the existing structure, a 68-year-old mass of concrete that has been deemed “deficient” by a state agency.
The renowned U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones has studied our earthquakes, and gone on television time and again to give us information and comfort. Now the “Earthquake Lady” is retiring – but still kind of wishing, in the nicest possible way, for a chance to experience a Big One.
Now [Lucy] Jones hopes to leverage her earthquake credentials to tackle even more ambitious projects. She’s retiring from the USGS this month to help officials develop science-based policies related to climate change, tsunamis and other kinds of natural disasters.
San Francisco is having a fire sale on spare parts for the city’s 100-year-old emergency water supply system — the network of high-pressure pipes and hydrants designed to help firefighting efforts should city water mains fail in a major earthquake.
More than five years after Oklahoma first saw a startling spike in earthquakes linked to the disposal of huge volumes of wastewater created by hydraulic fracturing for oil, the state continues to shake at an unprecedented rate and the number of strong quakes is increasing.
UC Santa Cruz researcher Thomas Goebel suggests that, in fact, we do have induced earthquakes here. His latest paper, in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, is a detailed study of an earthquake swarm that occurred beneath the Tejon Oil Field south of Bakersfield on September 22, 2005.
In the last 150 years, Washington state has experienced 15 major earthquakes, and scientists say it’s just a matter of time before the next one strikes. To get ready, President Barack Obama’s new budget plan includes $8 million to help bring an early earthquake warning system online.
A 2005 spate of quakes in California’s Central Valley almost certainly was triggered by oilfield injection underground, a study published Thursday said in the first such link in California between oil and gas operations and earthquakes.
With officials still struggling to find money to create an earthquake early warning system for the West Coast, a private foundation, Intel Corp. and an arm of Amazon.com Inc. said they will pitch in money or other support, officials said at a White House summit Tuesday.
Seismologists say a full rupture of a 650-mile-long offshore fault running from Northern California to British Columbia and an ensuing tsunami could come in our lifetimes, and emergency management officials are busy preparing for the worst.
State regulators ordered a few years ago that the vast lake near Morgan Hill in Santa Clara County — which holds more water than the other nine reservoirs in the county combined — could not be filled any more than 68 percent full because geologic tests found that in a major earthquake, its 240-foot high earthen dam could slump, releasing a wall of water that could generate a trail of death and destruction all the way to San Jose.
The quakes — ranging from the hardly perceptible magnitude 0.8 to a more robust 3.6 — have been occurring every few minutes to every few hours, rattling residents in the surrounding communities, particularly San Ramon.
U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Paul Earle and computer scientist Michelle Guy are taking social media to a new level, using Twitter to help detect earthquakes in real time as they are felt across the globe.
A group of U.S. drilling states, seismologists, academics and industry experts issued guidance Monday in a frank new report on handling human-induced earthquakes caused by hydraulic fracturing or the disposal of fracking wastewater.
More than half a dozen water mains ruptured in the East Bay on Monday, mostly in and around the areas affected by a magnitude 4.0 earthquake Monday morning, according to the East Bay Municipal Water District.
An earthquake along the California coast could pose a greater tsunami threat to the Ventura area than previously understood, according to a new study published Tuesday by UC Riverside and U.S. Geological Survey scientists.
The U.S. Geological Survey has awarded $4 million to help push ShakeAlert, an earthquake early warning system, closer to becoming a functioning $38.2 million network on the West Coast. … The USGS last week announced it awarded about $4 million to four universities: Caltech, UC Berkeley, University of Washington and University of Oregon.
[Binod] Tiwari, a civil engineer at the Fullerton university, has come to Nepal to help lead the Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance team, which assesses the damage after mega-earthquakes … Tiwari and the team, which is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, are examining every bit of infrastructure they come across — bridges, roads, houses and hydropower projects.
A giant earthquake will strike California this summer. Skyscrapers will topple, the Hoover Dam will crumble and a massive tsunami will wash across the Golden Gate Bridge. Or at least, that’s the scenario that will play out on the big screen in San Andreas.
In the film, opening this Friday, a previously unknown fault near the Hoover Dam in Nevada ruptures and jiggles the San Andreas. … U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Susan Hough accompanied The Associated Press to an advance screening of the film.
Despite concerns from some residents, scientists say two recent earthquakes centered in the Baldwin Hills area — including one Sunday morning — do not appear to be connected to drilling operations at nearby oil fields.
East Bay Municipal Utility District crews were repairing a minor break to a 12-inch steel water main at North Main Street and Geary Road in Walnut Creek on Sunday night. The break was reported at 4:15 p.m., but repair crews could not immediately determine if the shaking caused the underground break to the 52-year-old water main, said EBMUD spokeswoman Tracie Morales-Noisy.
Many studies have linked the rise in small quakes to the injection of wastewater into disposal wells, but the Geological Survey’s report takes the first comprehensive look at where the man-made quakes are occurring.
New research released Wednesday suggests that the shaking from “the Big One,” the long-predicted major earthquake on the San Andreas fault, could trigger additional large temblors on nearby faults, intensifying the overall seismic impact.
Sen. Bob Hertzberg proposed a Water Seismic Safety (SB664) bill on Tuesday requiring local water agencies to evaluate their earthquake risks and suggest ways to keep the water flowing in the event of a disaster.
A massive earthquake in the central Aleutian Islands in Alaska could send waves as high as 28 feet crashing into Rodeo Cove near Sausalito, according to data presented Tuesday at Marin’s first-ever tsunami preparedness symposium.
Mayor Eric Garcetti’s call to strengthen Los Angeles’ water system — one pillar of his ambitious plan to ready the city for a major earthquake — would cost as much as $15 billion and require decades of work, Department of Water and Power engineers estimate.
A new California earthquake forecast by the U.S. Geological Survey and partners revises scientific estimates for the chances of having large earthquakes over the next several decades. The Third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, or UCERF3, improves upon previous models by incorporating the latest data on the state’s complex system of active geological faults, as well as new methods for translating these data into earthquake likelihoods.
Reactivated faults that have produced thousands of Oklahoma earthquakes are capable of causing larger seismic events, according to U.S. Geological Survey research published today [March 6] in Geophysical Research Letters. … Several recent studies have linked Oklahoma earthquakes with the injection of wastewater from enhanced oil and gas exploration.
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has opened a new 3.5 mile-long tunnel in Sunol Valley, a few miles east of Fremont, that will transport 265 million gallons of water a day, on average, to customers of the Hetch Hetchy water system.
The fault that caused that Napa quake is forecast to move an additional 2 to 6 inches in the next three years in a hard-hit residential area, a top federal scientist said at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco on Tuesday.
Los Angeles gets 88% of its water from three major aqueducts, flowing from the Colorado River, Owens Valley and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. … Officials have long warned that a massive temblor on the San Andreas could destroy key sections of the aqueducts, cutting off the water supply for more than 22 million people in Southern California.
California received funding to help begin an earthquake warning system across the state next year that would provide enough time for trains to brake, utilities to shut off gas lines and people to dive under a table until the shaking stops.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday proposed the most ambitious seismic safety regulations in California history — rules that would require owners to retrofit thousands of buildings most at risk of collapse during a major earthquake. … Garcetti is also proposing sweeping plans to protect aqueducts that supply L.A. with water and ensure firefighters won’t be left helpless by ruptured pipes as fires burn through neighborhoods.
Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey and university researchers suggest that the increased number of temblors coincides with the injection of wastewater deep underground, which is part of the process in hydraulic fracturing.
On a map of the whole state, the great earthquake faults of California look like a pretty simple set of lines that join and divide in a loose tangle: the San Andreas Fault Zone. … A new paper in the journal Tectonics (open access) has begun to lay bare the intricate buried structure south of Hollister where two major faults come together, the San Andreas and Calaveras faults.
Marin is the 17th worst place to own a home in the country, almost as bad as Hurricane Katrina-ravaged Forrest County, Mississippi, according to a report from the Weather Channel website weather.com. Earthquake, flood and wildfire risk combined to land Marin in the list of America’s 50 worst places to own a house based on natural factors.
It’s been 25 years since a massive quake rocked the Bay Area just before a World Series game … There have been about $30 billion worth of upgrades made to roads and water and telecommunications systems.
The Bay Area is booming, building and growing. But its 7 million residents live under a shadow: a future earthquake that could devastate the region as much as — or more than — the Loma Prieta tremor 25 years ago.
A massive earthquake in Southern California could economically cripple the Los Angeles region, earthquake “czar” Dr. Lucy Jones warned City Council members during a hearing Wednesday. … A seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, Jones is working for the city for free for 12 months, helping craft a report on earthquake preparedness in building safety, water issues and communication systems.
This week, the $288 million tunnel begins carrying the Bay Area’s water supply from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park to the Peninsula, bolstering the dependability of the region’s water system.
Four highly stressed seismic faults in the Bay Area’s densely populated San Andreas system are moving on the surface and could rupture in a major earthquake at any time, according to scientists tracking their movements. … The scientists’ report was published Monday in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.
A popular rock climbing area and other recreational facilities on the southeast side of Lake Perris will be closed for three years starting this week so that seismic work can begin on the dam, state officials said.
In greater numbers by the month, residents across north Orange County are calling for an end to fracking, joining a growing chorus of Californians demanding a stop to the controversial oil drilling practice.
An extensive Bay Area News Group survey of our infrastructure offers much reassurance: Major water pipes are now designed to bend, not break. … But our readiness to recover from the Big One gets far from a perfect score — more like a C-plus, say experts who study quake preparation around the globe.
15-minute DVD that graphically portrays the potential disaster should a major earthquake hit the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. “Delta Warning” depicts what would happen in the event of an earthquake registering 6.5 on the Richter scale: 30 levee breaks, 16 flooded islands and a 300 billion gallon intrusion of salt water from the Bay – the “big gulp” – which would shut down the State Water Project and Central Valley Project pumping plants.
This beautifully illustrated 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing and display in any office or classroom, focuses on the theme of Delta sustainability.
The text, photos and graphics explain issues related to land subsidence, levees and flooding, urbanization and fish and wildlife protection. An inset map illustrates the tidal action that increases the salinity of the Delta’s waterways. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the California Bay-Delta Authority.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Flood Management explains the physical flood control system, including levees; discusses previous flood events (including the 1997 flooding); explores issues of floodplain management and development; provides an overview of flood forecasting; and outlines ongoing flood control projects.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta, its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex and competing issues with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural drainage, and water distribution.
This issue of Western Water looks at the BDCP and the Coalition to Support Delta Projects, issues that are aimed at improving the health and safety of the Delta while solidifying California’s long-term water supply reliability.