Posted by: Michael Ritter PhD | July 31, 2008

Catastrophic earthquake overdue for Los Angeles

The recent 5.4 earthquake in Los Angeles is just another wake-up call that “the big one” is overdue according to seismologist Lucille Jones.  The earthquake occurred along the San Andreas fault, a right-lateral strike-slip (transform) fault where the Pacific plate is slipping past the North American plate. Before the earthquake on  July 29, 2008, the most serious temblor to strike the Los Angeles region of late was the Loma Prieta earthquake that left 57 dead and 6 to 13 billion dollars in property damage.

Dr. Jones recently led a group of over 300 experts who examined the implications of a major earthquake in southern California.  The results of their analysis serve as the basis for  the Great Southern California ShakeOut emergency response and preparedness exercise. For the purpose of the project and emergency drill, the  earthquake occurs at 10:00 a.m. on November 13, 2008.

The ShakeOut Scenario, jointly published by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the California Geological Survey (CGS) is the most comprehensive analysis ever of what a major Southern California earthquake would do. In their disaster scenario, the 7.8 magnitude earthquake would kill 1800 people, injure 50,000, cause $200 billion in damage, and have long-lasting social and economic consequences. The earthquake that occurred on July 29, 2008, is about 5,000 times smaller than one depicted in the “ShakeOut Earthquake Scenario.”

Related Links:

“The ShakeOut Scenario” – U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report 2008-1150

Geologic History of the San Andreas Fault System

Related “The Physical Environment” textbook links: Faulting; Plate Boundaries; Plate Boundaries and Earthquakes

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