A new report released by USGS (United States Geological Survey) claims that there is a “72 percent probability of a magnitude 6.7 or greater earthquake” to occur in the Bay Area of California, including a major city like San Fransisco. There are over half a dozen fault lines that run through the Bay Area, all of which pose the risk for a powerful earthquake. A fault line outlines the different tectonic plate boundaries. When shifts in these boundaries occur, that is called an earthquake. The map below from USGS shows where these different fault lines are, including the infamous San Andres fault, as well as their respective chances for a magnitude 6.7 or greater quake.

This is definitely alarming. This new scientific study’s goal is to alert the public for what can happen in the coming future, according to Ken Hudnut, USGS Science Advisor for Risk Reduction: “The USGS and its partners have worked together to anticipate the impacts of a hypothetical M7.0 earthquake on the Hayward Fault, before it happens, so that people can use the latest science in their efforts to become even better prepared.” Scientists created a fake but realistic scenario on how a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on the Hayward Fault may affects the Bay Area. It led to the conclusion that preparation is crucial to lower the risk for death and damage to buildings. It focuses on “the cumulative impacts of aftershocks and fault afterslip, likely performance of buildings constructed under current building codes, urban search and rescue implications, effects of lifeline interdependencies (including the Internet), and communities at risk.”

Their Hayward Fault scenario, which USGS is naming, “The HayWired Earthquake Scenario,” suggests that about 800 people would be killed and 18,000 would be injured. This line runs east of San Francisco Bay and through Oakland, and if an earthquake occurs, over 7 million people may feel the shaking. USGS also claims that this scenario would leave about 411,000 people homeless and cause more than $82 billion in property damage. The water supply would also be damaged, leaving some people without water service for up to half a year. Fires are another threat. “During and soon after the mainshock, more than 400 gas- and electric-related fires could ignite,” according to the report. Along with the main earthquake, after shocks due to the quake may occur as late as two years.

California is well overdue for a major earthquake. “On average, for the past 12 major earthquakes on the [Hayward Fault], the interval between events has been about 150 years plus or minus 60 years. The last major earthquake on the Hayward Fault was a magnitude-6.8 earthquake in 1868—150 years ago.” The time for the next one on this fault is bound to happen based on history. That’s why preparation and awareness about what could happen is important, which is the main point of this new report.


Jackson is Head of Content and Social Media at WeatherOptics. He is currently a student at the University of Miami, studying Meteorology and Broadcast Journalism. Dill produces forecast articles for the website and helps to manage the content schedule. He has also led the growth of WeatherOptics’ social media accounts, working to keep them aligned with the company’s evolving vision.

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