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Big Earthquake Coming to California Sometime in 30 Years

The golden state just got a gloomy forecast. Scientists predict that a strong and deadly earthquake will hit California within 30 years. The probability that the "big one" will be at least a 6.7 magnitude is now over 99 percent. An even more dangerous 7.5 magnitude is 46 percent likely, and more prone to Southern California.

Geophysicists hope city planners, building designers, insurance companies, and homeowners will use the information to plan ahead. Check out 72 Hours for some very useful tips on how to get ready for earthquakes, fires, severe storms, power outages, acts of terrorism, and any other imaginable emergency.

So, if you're planning to be in California in the next 30 years, you're going to need some bottled water and canned food! Do you worry about natural disasters where you live? Are you prepared?


Join The Conversation
faster faster 9 years
hypnoticmix makes a good point. If we learned a bit about how to gather edible plants, we might be better able to survive many kinds of natural disasters. It only would involve learning about the kinds that grow in your area, and then learning all you can about them, so you can seek them out if you need to one day. Good show, hypnoticmix! As for clean water, it's truly a pity you don't have what I have here in Mexico: purificaton drops. A drop in a quart of water kills ALL microbes in it. Mix in the drop well, wait 20 minutes and drink. Here in the tropics, intestinal parasites thrive in the soil, and get on ALL produce that grows near the soil. Cabbage will give you one for sure, as will celery, cilantro, lettuce or any other green leaf. I can purify my produce easily. You can't. I don't have to care what e-coli are on my spinach. If I had my drops handy, I'd eat it raw. All that good spinach America has wasted! Over e-coli, which can be easily killed with purification! Maybe it's time Americans started asking some pointed questions about things affecting their health that they CAN'T have. And trying to find out WHY they can't have things they could really use. I've even used 10 drops in a gulp of water to CURE a parasite when I got one - and it works. Fast and cheap, too. These purification drops could also easily solve the problem of contaminated water after disasters around the world. Why doesn't this quick, cheap, lightweight (easily transported) solution get ANY press time? Why transport tons of HEAVY bottles of drinking water when they could transport little bottles the size of nasal sprays? Each can purify drinking water, from ANY source, for a LARGE family for a month. Easily. It doesn't take out anything; it just kills the buglies. But in a disaster, that's enough! And, after 14 YEARS of using the drops regularly, I can assure you that they do precisely what they claim to do. And woe to me when I'm too hungry to purify my cole slaw. Every time, without fail, I got sick. I'm smarter now. Mexico has had these drops for DECADES. Yet American "experts" say purifying food is difficult and "still being researched"! What baloney! You're being lied to, bigtime, on that one. I've used them, successfully, for 14 years. So has the bulk of Mexico's population. They can be used on sores, like mercurichrome, on acne to kill the germs there - lots of uses. But YOU can't have them. That stinks.
faster faster 9 years
Anyone who thinks this information about the likelihood of a Calif. earthquake is hype or something doesn't know their science. Be ignorant, but not where it risks your life. I don't want anyone to die merely for being stupid. This is NOT hype. It is very real indeed. Yes, hurricanes are terrifying, and so are floods and tornadoes, but at least you get SOME forewarning. A quake hits with none at all, and it hits HARD. It isn't the earth that threatens you in a quake; it's what can FALL on you. Most often, the building you're in, but also power lines and walls from nearby structures. If a quake hits, just get out into the open where nothing around you can fall on you - if possible. The earth itself opens up and closes on people only in extremely rare situations. Figure out now, in advance, where you'd go, so you don't have to cogitate the matter later, when seconds count. And the Midwest "earthquake scare" was no scare. The one that hit the Missippi and Ohio river valleys was one of the biggest in history. Hardly anyone lived there back then, so there was little damage or loss of life. But that quake was a great granddaddy. If it happened today, it'd be horrendous. And it WILL happen again. They're trying to figure out when it might happen right now. It's not an ordinary quake area, and is extremely complex, but VERY real. That doesn't mean you should pay attention to people who claim to actually predict a quake. No professional geologist would try to do that, because they know they can't. Listen to what the pros say about it. And take THEM seriously. It's not a scare or hype, because I've known about this quake area since the '70's. Were they scaring people then, too? Weather does not have any measurable effect on quakes, but geologic activity CAN at times affect weather. The ash Krakatoa put into the atmosphere affected weather for several years. Nothing yet can accurately predict a quake. But it can project the odds, which is what this article is doing. There is nothing better. I'd take them very seriously, even the dude who says his dad played with rocks for money. mini_pixie should be ashamed for minimizing the dangers of earthquakes where they've come often and hard. Hocus pocus? What kind of geologist would call earthquake risks hocus pocus? They are real indeed, and we DO know where they're most likely to happen, too. We can make fairly reliable projections of how bad the next one is likely to be for a given fault, and even a range of years in which it is likely to happen. But the projections are too broad, too general, to be called predictions. You can only be prepared for one that is known to be "on its way some day." Especially if "some day" isn't all that far off. S. Calif. is due for a major quake. Within 30 years. Much more likely a lot sooner. Even tomorrow is not out of the question. S. Calif. quakes can happen ANY time, along ANY of its many faults. Any geologist who could say it's hocus pocus should turn in his seismographs. If a major quake occurs, and you're THERE, you're in grave danger. If you expect to be THERE for the next 30 years, you WILL be hit with an earthquake. It's only a matter of where the rupture occurs and where you are in relation to it - and a few other factors, too. You can't know where you'll be, or anything else until it happens. But it WILL happen. Earth movements are very slow, very hard to predict, but never simply stop. The quakes are inevitable. The fact that hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, etc., can sometimes result in more loss of life begs the question. It ignores the fact that at times earthquakes result in MORE. And for all other disasters, you always have at least SOME time to brace yourself. Even a volcano gives warnings. Not earthquakes. And if you're in a quake zone, what does it matter to your safety if a tornado in OK takes many lives? Does that mean a quake won't? Your problem in S. Calif. is earthquakes, wildfires and flooding, chum. The most deadly are the quakes. If you are taking seriously any of the shrugoff comments here, I'd recommend you get a good book from the library about earthquakes, written at the layman's level (maybe a Time-Life book) and READ that puppy. Don't forget to eyeball the photos, either.
faster faster 9 years
Correction. Not 5 1/2 feet - 16 and a half feet. 5 1/2 YARDS. I divided the 200 inches by 36 instead of 12. Mea culpa. And 16 feet is an extremely large movement. Stay safe, and stay ALIVE, okay?
faster faster 9 years
As an "armchair geologist," I must tell the people of S. California that they should check out the kind of soils their houses and workplaces sit on. If on or close to solid rock, it's best. If on thick soil, especially sediments or old landfill material, they'd do best to consider moving. Those soils literally turn into LIQUID in a quake, and the damage is astronomical - the death rate, too. If you live on thick, soft soil in those areas, get away from them, before it's too late. Because when a major quake hits, you'll be hit worst of all. Also know what faults are involved with the places you spend time in. The San Andreas moves at an average of two inches a year. That doesn't sound like much. But between 1907 when the big San Francisco quake occurred, and now, 2" a year amounts to about 200 inches, or 5 and a half feet. To move all of it at once would be a gargantuan quake. I don't have info how much movement it has had in the S. F. area since 1907, but I think most of it has yet to move. When a major fault builds up many years, not moving, the pressures become enormous. When it finally gives, it literally snaps, and the results are godawful for people. PLEASE! Take these quakes very seriously. The day one happens to you is too late. I know a high death toll will be unavoidable in a major quake, but it hurts to think of even ONE of my fellow Americans dying. Shoot, it hurts to think of ANY human dying in any natural disaster. And aren't we lucky we don't live in Myanmar? The regime there is an obscenity, a BLOT on humanity itself.
faster faster 9 years
We humans are sometimes awfully stupid. We know an earthquake will happen, yet take a fatalistic viewpoint on it - until it DOES. Then we change our minds. I hope Americans in earthquake zones would become more vividly aware of the very REAL dangers facing them, so fewer will die WHEN one occurs. As for me, you couldn't pay me enough to live in southern Calif., for that reason alone. Yet I, too, live in an earthquake zone. And the worst part of it is that I know almost nothing about it. It could be a dire risk, or a very minimal one. I live in Mexico, on a huge mountain plateau that covers a broad region of northern Mexico (it includes Guadalajara, and Lake Chapala - I live near the lake). This plateau is a MILE above sea level, and there are visible signs that big quakes have struck this area before, but I don't know how long ago. There are some road cuts where strata are severely bent, but is such activity likely again? In my 14 years here, I've already lived through two major quakes, but they were far away, and our area only swayed back and forth, no damage was done. But it could happen, and it worries me. Even those swaying movements were awesome - the sheer ENERGY required to send the waves 100-200 miles, and still be strong enough to make this whole plateau sway back and forth like a cork on a wave - lake, mountains, and much more - was mindblowing. On top of this plateau, in a circle all around the Lake, there are mountains. On top of a mile-high plateau! One is visibly of volcanic origin; you can see its crater, but nobody knows when it last erupted. Some say the lake itself is a huge caldera that has been inactive for thousands of years. Some evidence exists that it may be so, because most of our groundwater is near the boiling point, indicating magma not far underground. We have a few fumaroles emitting gas, and a few geysers and hot springs, too. One of Mexico's active volcanoes, Colima, is about 55 miles S.E. of us, as the crow flies. Dust from its own eruptions covers this area and makes the dry season miserable, as breezes extract it from the soil every year and spread it all over - it gets into everything! Until the rainy season begins - which will be soon, thank goodness. We're dry as a bone here from about October thru June, then we get storms virtually every night - and occasionally in the day. Needless to say, everyone prefers rainy season. It cools things down - for real, not turning into steam - and scrubs the dust out of the air. This climate, though, is about as perfect as you can get. I've never had A/C or central heat. A fan, or sweaters and an electric blanket are all I've ever needed. No high utility bills! Eat your heart out. Actually, tho, I wish you had what I have. I have no source that can tell me about the geology of this region that I live in. My Spanish is adequate, but not good enough to understand science in that language. In an area somewhat West of Zacatecas, I once saw a landscape so tortured by geologic upheavals that it looked like a frozen geologic SCREAM! This northwestern section of Mexico is highly active geologically, but I want to know HOW, what the factors and history, etc., really ARE. And the odds of something really NASTY striking this area. Can someone help me find a source of solid information about this area? It's more than wanting to know the odds and be prepared; it's a towering sense of scientific curiosity, too. This area seems geologically unique, and I'm fascinated by geology. And thanks to anyone who tries to satisfy my thirst for info. Holly B.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
terryt18--central IL. Decatur, to be exact. That was such a weird thing, the Midwest earthquake scare. I haven't thought about it in years! Wonder what's become of Brown?
terryt18 terryt18 9 years
JudeC-- Yes! Same scare! I couldn't remember exactly what grade I was in, but my birthday is the 1st and I was seriously scared I was going to turn 10 or whatever and the next day the world would swallow me up. Did you live in S. IL? I'm in W KY .
partysugar partysugar 9 years
Dude they've been saying this for the past 30 years as well!
piper23 piper23 9 years
Thanks for the insight, Liberty. I have read the stories regarding the blockage of recruiters at high schools and colleges along with the JROTC fiasco. Also the USS Iowa issue was a hard one to understand as well. And I know that its not all of San Fran that is anti-military but unfortunately the rest of the country doesn't hear about the ones like you. Thanks again for the insight!
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
I was born and raised CA, never lived anywhere else. Earthquakes aren't that big of a deal to me. I like to be prepared, but nothing crazy. Like Jillness said, we have a "big" one not very often and yes unfortunately they often result in deaths, but there are worse natural disasters, that happen WAY more often and result in more deaths and damage. Our homes and buildings are built to withstand easrthquaks as much as possible. Hearst Castle (central Coast CA) was built in 1947 (that's when they stopped building) and it survived a 6.6 just a couple years back with no damage. That's pretty amazing. We don't use brick (usually, it's just facade if you see it) because it doesn't do well in earthquakes. I personally live right at the end of the San Andreas fault. I'm not too worried, just got to be ready.
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
Hey there piper23. I hesitate to explain other people's opinions, as I am not anti-military. I do know that there has been push back against city leaders when they peruse "anti-military" policy. For example, one city supervisor tried to cancel Fleet Week (the week when the city welcomes the Blue Angles and Navy). People got pretty upset, and Fleet Week went forward! Thousands of San Franciscans enjoyed the military traditions, and celebration. (It's one of my favorite weeks of the year!) As for the JROTC, I know many people were upset when the School Board banned it, and of course many eager to provide high school students alternatives. I think San Francisco is an easy target, because the city is a forum for vocal political minorities. Also many confuse anti-war sentiment with anti-military sentiment. But, I have never personally experienced hostility toward the troops, or anti-military attitudes. Anyone else have a perspective?
piper23 piper23 9 years
Hey, Liberty, can you give us some insight into why San Francisco is so anti-military? Seriously. What has the military ever done to you guys? Just don't see what all the hostility is about. Can you explain?
stephley stephley 9 years
Nope, these guys are geologists, seismologists and geophysicists - not weather guys.
MissMarisol MissMarisol 9 years
Are these the same peeps that predict the weather?
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
For me I think it was grade school, though--so maybe '90 or '91? But it was definitely Brown and Dec. 2 or 3, so it was the same period/scare.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
OMG terryt18, I totally remember that!!! We had to do earthquake drills (in Illinois of all places!!!!)--it was so freakin' bizarre!
terryt18 terryt18 9 years
I live on the New Madrid Fault line, a large region of seismic activity including parts of AR,IL,TN,MO,&KY. When I was in elementary school, a famous seismologist by the name of Brown predicted a huge earthquake on Dec 2 or 3rd of the year (maybe '92 or '93). He was very specific and sure of himself and as a result we had all this earthquake protection education, bolted down bookshelves, had to bring gallons of water to school, etc. it was hysteria, in some regards, because I guess we really thought it was going to be the big one. The big one has yet to happen in our area, but the threat still frightens me. . .
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
Hi Everyone! San Francisco is definitely self-conscious of it's national identity. Here is an insightful article on how SF's characterization as a bastion of the elite played into the whole Obama bitter-gate. If you stroll through the article's discussion, you'll find some authentic SF reaction to the whole issue. ... I'm sure some opinions will fit the stereotypes, and others might surprise you.
piper23 piper23 9 years
Excellent point, UnDave. I hear Code Pink is a good group to call when you have a natural disaster. They string their boas together and people climb out of buildings using them. Smart and resourceful group, that one.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I don't see San Fran doing that. Somehow they'll manage to blame the current administration for any problems they have.
piper23 piper23 9 years
San Fran better be making nice with the military. Sounds like they are going to need them.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Maybe it'll knock California into the ocean, and then they can be their own little country. :P
kikidawn kikidawn 9 years
I live in Oklahoma... tornadoes are my thing :) It gets BAD here. Look up the May 3, 1999 tornadoes! About 66 tornadoes in Ok and surrounding areas... over 1 billion dollars of damage. But to tell you the truth, since I've grown up here and have been around so many I'm not really scared of them anymore. I love thunderstorms and tornadic weather. I guess it just depends on what you grow up around.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i read about this earlier today and i think that it's really interesting to see how scientists are able to predict things like this. i was watching a show on discovery or something along those lines during the christmas holiday and they were talking about how you can try to predict things like this happening. i hope that they are able to fortell things like this happening before they do strike so that the damages and loss of life are minimal.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
When I moved to LA, people asked me "Aren't you scared of earthquakes?" If the "big one" kills 72 people every 20 years out of 13 million people...the odds just aren't that terrifying. My old state would have 300 tornados every year, and that was far more scary to me. Or the blizzards and deathly driving conditions. Or the floods where I needed the National Guard to bring me water when there was none. I am more scared of traffic than earthquakes!
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