Forecast: Big Quake Likely in Calif.

By | April 15, 2008

California faces an almost certain risk of being rocked by a strong earthquake by 2037, scientists said Monday in the first statewide temblor forecast.

New calculations reveal there is a 99.7 percent chance a magnitude 6.7 quake or larger will strike in the next 30 years. The odds of such an event are higher in Southern California than Northern California, 97 percent versus 93 percent.

“It basically guarantees it’s going to happen,” said Ned Field, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena and lead author of the report.

The 1994 Northridge earthquake under Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley was magnitude 6.7. It killed 72 people, injured more than 9,000 and caused $25 billion in damage in the metropolitan area.

The damage created by an earthquake depends greatly on where it hits. A 7.1 quake — much stronger than Northridge — hit the Mojave Desert in 1999 but caused only a few injuries and no deaths.

California is one of the world’s most seismically active regions. More than 300 faults crisscross the state, which sits atop two of Earth’s major tectonic plates, the Pacific and North American plates. About 10,000 quakes each year rattle Southern California alone, although most of them are too small to be felt. …

Scientists still cannot predict exactly where in the state such a quake will occur or when. But they say the analysis should be a wake-up call for residents to prepare for a natural disaster in earthquake country. – ap

Not a problem. The world will end in 2012, years before the quake hits.

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