Patterico's Pontifications


Predictions for a California Quake

Filed under: Environment — DRJ @ 3:45 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Researchers believe a big quake will hit Southern California in the next 30 years:

“The researchers found that the chances of a magnitude 7.5 or greater temblor in the next 30 years is 46%. They determined such a quake would likely occur in Southern California.

According to a report from the researchers, the forecasts were made by combining “information from seismology, earthquake geology, and geodesy [measuring precise locations on the Earth’s surface]. For the first time, probabilities for California having a large earthquake in the next 30 years can be forecast statewide.”

Hopefully the researchers are wrong but, if it does happen, the article states that damages may be more severe than in past quakes because of growing population and increased building on fault lines.


25 Responses to “Predictions for a California Quake”

  1. well, that’s a no brainer….. we haven’t had a big one on the San Andreas since the Ft Tejon quake.

    we’re due.

    redc1c4 (21981b)

  2. Researchers believe a big quake will hit Southern California in the next 30 years.

    They’re channeling Fred Phelps?

    (C’mon, it wasn’t that snarky.)

    steve (b1ac5b)

  3. I am very disappointed that an article warning of a large-scale disaster would fail to blame Global Warming as a root cause.

    JVW (835f28)

  4. To channel Phelps, researchers would have to claim that Californians deserve the big quake that will hit in the next 30 years.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  5. Quake, steve, the story said quake, not quack.

    And yes, I am on anti-irony medication at the moment. Why do you ask?

    ras (fc54bb)

  6. I have no special earthquake expertise, no seismograph data and no geophysical surveys, but I could tell them that. I rode out the Northridge quake in ’94.


    SPQR (26be8b)

  7. This wouldn’t have anything to do with the episode of “Eli Stone” on ABC last night, would it?

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  8. Yeah, and water is wet. It is usually sunnier at noon than at midnight, at least in Southern California.

    How much did we pay for this? Think how many potholes could have been filed. Or maybe we use the report to fill the potholes.

    Dave (a7494c)

  9. They’ve been predicting “the big one” for Southern California for as long as I’ve been old enough to remember such things. Charlton Heston was one of the stars in the disaster movie they made about it, wasn’t he?

    Are they still predicting California will fall into the sea?

    Meanwhile, the biggest earthquake recorded on the North American continent remains the Madrid Bend quake. It’s Midwesterners who should be bracing for catastrophe.

    (Yes, and I know the Northridge quake was bad enough. Nor will this person living-in-Florida-
    and-thinking-it’s-still-a-great-place-to-live make any remarks about people who live in a state that’s prone to earthquakes, mudslides, wildfires, and (at least according to the blogosphere) Mexican invasions.

    kishnevi (7a9e8b)

  10. A lot of this sort of thing is a misunderstanding of statistics rather than new information (The link doesn’t work so I couldn’t see their argument). Usually it is of the following variety. If there is a 10% chance of an earthquake per year and we go nine years without one, what is the chance of a quake in the tenth year?

    Answer- 10%

    Mike K (86bddb)

  11. Plate Tectonics is an amazing thing. Unlike man-made Global Warming, it is verifiable by scientific method.

    driver (faae10)

  12. Mike K., usually that is an apt analogy, but earthquakes are not independant events as that analogy assumes. This is because a fault can accumulate stress.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  13. I agree about fault stress and I said I could not make that link work. My question was the basis of the prediction. Prediction on tectonic stresses are very inexact. For example, Yellowstone Park is a caldera and the volcano that formed it erupts every 600,000 years. The last eruption was 600,000 years ago. Another eruption would be about 1,000 times Mt St Helen in magnitude.

    I wonder where they got 30 years.

    Mike K (86bddb)

  14. Mike K., where did they get 30 years? They pulled it from the end of their alimentary canal.

    If it was me, I’d pick an end point for my prediction about 5 years after my retirement date.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  15. geez,
    At least I know when a Hurricane is comin’. Living in Ca. would make me crazy.

    paul from fl (47918a)

  16. fl paul…
    It’s actually very easy.
    Very few people actually worry about it. They might make rudimentary preparations just in case;
    but, we do that in case the power goes out too.
    If it happens, it happens.
    If it doesn’t, what’s to worry about?

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  17. We’re that way about tornados.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  18. We’re that way about tornados.

    I’m not yet. Just moved to TX from CA.
    As Another Drew put it (and I went through both Sylmar and Northridge), it takes too much energy to worry about what you can’t see coming.

    X_LA_Native (6a3c55)

  19. X_LA_Native–remember, hurricanes hit Houston too. (alliteration rules).
    [evil laugh]

    kishnevi (51b1ea)

  20. Apparently, the predictions are based on two things:
    The idea that the San Andreas fault has been due for a rupture since 1830, based on average times between earthquakes (which is, as seismologists say themselves not a good predictor), and the cumulative
    probabilities of ruptures along individual fault lines. You can see it illustrated on this map used in the Wiki article on earthquake prediction: the overall probability is given as 62 percent, but the largest probability for any individual fault is 27 percent: 62 is the sum of the individual probabilities. How the individual probabilities were arrived at, I do not know.

    kishnevi (51b1ea)

  21. Did Paul Krugman change careers to geology. He has been predicting a recession since the start of the Bush administration. took eight years but he evenually might get it right. Boom and busts come and go. We’ve had big earthquakes before and we will have some more. Predicting a big earthquake or predicting a recession – eventually you will be correct. Dah

    Joe - Dallas (d29492)

  22. What a brilliant prediction…

    Watch me do one for the economy: The stock market will either rise or fall by some amount tomorrow.

    Scott Jacobs (d3a6ec)

  23. We’ve been having a series of quakes in and around the Tecate Mexico area. Tecate being the town where they produce Tecate beer. (You know, Coors for Hidalgos.) Anyway, nothing much over 5 on Richter, but there’s always hope.

    Alan Kellogg (57929d)

  24. I finally got that link to work and it says:

    The report does not predict where the expected 6.7 quake will hit — or when. This information is crucial because a temblor in a remote part of California would do far less damage than one in a populated area.

    Great ! Big help. I’m sure women and minorities will be most affected, too.

    Mike K (86bddb)

  25. Northridge was something else..

    Vermont Neighbor (629f2e)

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