Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Newsy: 'The Big One' Ready to Rock California

Experts say an earthquake along the San Andreas fault could happen soon and create massive destruction.

“Researchers are warning that a major earthquake known as The Big One could strike southern California at any time. New research shows the San Andreas fault is long overdue for a major shift, meaning it could trigger an 8.1 quake along the 340-mile stretch between Monterrey County to the Salton Sea.” (WKYC)

In 1857 an earthquake ruptured 255 miles of the San Andreas fault. The LA Times reports this new quake will be significantly stronger and longer than the previous one, producing a wall-to-wall temblor: “The ‘walls’ are the boundaries of the southern San Andreas, which begins in the Salton Sea and ends in Parkfield in Monterey County. Scientists consider the southern San Andreas as one segment because it behaves the same — it rarely rumbles, but when it is awakened, the shaking can be devastating.”

The recent reports have grabbed the attention of Californians. And they’re preparing for the worst. KCBS and KNSD have more: “The Big One is going to hit at Taft Middle School this morning. That’s because students there will get training on what to do during an earthquake using a device called the Big Shaker. That’ll start at 10 o’ clock. It’ll simulate a magnitude 7.8 earthquake.” (KCBS)

“10:21 we are doing a simulation, the whole state, that’s what makes this really effective. The entire state of California simulating that earthquake. It’s time for you to think about what you’re going to do, how you’re going to prepare.” (KNSD)

In 1906 San Francisco suffered a devastating magnitude 7.9 quake. Experts compare the impact of that quake to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The San Francisco Examiner paints a grim picture of what could happen today if the city doesn’t prepare: “One thousand dead, $54 billion in property damage, a $15 billion hit to business and 85,000 housing units lost. That is the grim scenario facing San Francisco if privately owned buildings are not seismically retrofitted to withstand the violent earthshaking of the next big temblor.”

Although scientists predict an apocalyptic shaking of the Golden State, on NBC’s Nightly News, Brian Williams says there might not be reason to panic quite yet: “Scientists still can’t agree on whether this event will happen in our lifetimes or way out into the future. And for Californians, of course, it’s just another day.”

The research was conducted by researchers at UC Irvine and Arizona State University and published August 30 in the scientific journal, Geology. 

Writer: Grace Meiners

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