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Apr 14 / Dave Schumaker

New Forecast for California Earthquakes

The USGS released the results of a new study on the probabilities for earthquakes throughout the state of California. Using new modeling techniques, they have found that the possibility of a large earthquake hitting the state of California to be greater than originally thought.

One notable aspect of the study is that it’s the first time that earthquake hazards can be meaningfully compared between Northern and Southern California.

California has more than a 99% chance of having a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake within the next 30 years, according scientists using a new model to determine the probability of big quakes.

The likelihood of a major quake of magnitude 7.5 or greater in the next 30 years is 46%-and such a quake is most likely to occur in the southern half of the state.

[...]

The consensus of the scientific community on forecasting California earthquakes allows for meaningful comparisons of earthquake probabilities in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as comparisons among several large faults.

The probability of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake over the next 30 years striking the greater Los Angeles area is 67%, and in the San Francisco Bay Area it is 63%, similar to previous Bay Area estimates. For the entire California region, the fault with the highest probability of generating at least one magnitude 6.7 quake or larger is the southern San Andreas (59% in the next 30 years).

For northern California, the most likely source of such earthquakes is the Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault (31% in the next 30 years). Such quakes can be deadly, as shown by the 1989 magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta and the 1994 magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquakes.

The latest episode of the USGS Corecast talks about this study and features an interview with USGS geophysicist Tom Parsons.

[Via USGS]

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