A new report by the United States Geological Survey predicts what devastating effects could come from a hypothetical major earthquake on a California fault. According to the report, if a 7.0 quake were ever to hit directly under the city of Oakland on the Hayward fault, the results could be catastrophic.
“When you build a city right on the fault you get much worse shaking than we usually think about,” CalTech seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones told ABC News.
The Hayward fault which runs under the highly populated Bay Area in San Francisco is called one of the most active and dangerous. It produces a major earthquake on average every 150 years. The 150th anniversary of the last major quake will occur later this year. The USGS predicts a 33 percent chance that a major earthquake will occur on the fault by 2043.
The USGS report indicates that if a major earthquake ever were to occur today, it could result in as many as 800 fatalities and 18,000 injuries. Damage from the hypothetical quake could displace 77,000 households as well as high-rise buildings.
Fires due to broken gas lines or downed power lines following a potential earthquake could be just as devastating as the quake itself. According to the report, about a third of property damage would be due to fires in this frightening scenario, which could amount to as many as 52,000 homes being destroyed.
The report states that the number of people in danger could be reduced by early warning systems that are currently under development. The reasoning for the report wasn’t to scare anyone but to instead spread awareness. Dr. Lucy Jones hopes the message will show how slightly increasing construction costs could significantly reduce the number of buildings damaged in the event of a major earthquake.
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