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Nov 14 / USGS Newsroom

How Science Helps Communities Prepare for and Survive Earthquakes

Earthquakes are far more than just geological phenomena-they can greatly alter the way people live by damaging whole communities.

A new USGS video production, “The Great Southern California ShakeOut: An Earthquake Scenario Based On Science,” shows how science is used by government agencies, emergency responders, policymakers and the public to help build safer communities. It is based on the USGS ShakeOut Scenario, the scientific foundation for the Great Southern California ShakeOut, a region-wide earthquake drill conducted on November 13, 2008.

“When I gaze out my window, I realize that every building, every high-rise I can see from the 15th floor here in city hall in Los Angeles, will be impacted by this catastrophic earthquake,” said Jim Featherstone, General Manager, City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department, in an interview in the video, referring to the theoretical magnitude 7.8 earthquake that is part of the ShakeOut Scenario. “The science of the Great ShakeOut has allowed me to bring that perspective home.”

Other interview subjects include the USGS, the Office of Homeland Security, the County of Riverside, the California Governor’s Office, the East Valley Water District, the Art Center College of Design, the County of San Bernardino, and a professor emeritus from Colorado State University.

In addition to interviews, this video also discusses how such an earthquake would affect downtown Los Angeles and the San Andreas Fault-crossing Cajon Pass, a narrow corridor through the San Gabriel Mountains known as an important “lifeline corridor” where roads, railroads, water and energy pipelines, and electrical and communications infrastructure provide service to millions of residences, businesses, commuters and communities in Southern California.

You can view this video in episode 75 of CoreCast at Learn more about the USGS’s role in the Great ShakeOut at More information about the Great Southern California ShakeOut can be found at

[Via USGS]

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