Earthquakes Shake the Bay

Earthquakes Shake the Bay

Julia Govan, Staff Writer

In the weeks following the Oct. 20 California Shakeout Drill, Bay Area residents experienced multiple earthquakes of varying magnitudes. Consequently, a common question has arisen: are these smaller tremors simply releasing pressure or are they leading up to the “big one?”

“Neither,” said Miramonte Geology Teacher Nicki LeBoi. “Most seismologists believe they’ve happened for millennia.”

In other words, earthquakes are occurring all the time, only  certain magnitudes are too minute to be detected by the public without a seismogram. In fact, according to the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC), there are more than 14,000 earthquakes each year, approximately 50 per day.

But as stated by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a sequential increase in earthquake activity does not signify that a great earthquake is about to occur. An earthquake has never been predicted and seismologists don’t expect to figure out how to go about doing so in the foreseeable future either.

“It would be fabulous if we could. USGS has a high probability that the chance of a pretty large earthquake is probable. But right now it’s unknown,” said LeBoi.

Although presently earthquakes are unpredictable, scientists can use data to calculate the probabilities of future quakes. According to the 2008 Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, there is a 63 percent chance that a severe earthquake, with a magnitude of 6.7 or greater, will hit the San Francisco Bay Area over the next thirty years.

Ironically enough, on the day of the Great California Shakeout drill, a 4.0 magnitude earthquake on the Hayward Fault about two miles southeast of Berkeley, shook up local residents. Since then, a series of eight or more earthquakes followed and were felt by bay area occupants in the weeks after.

But are we really prepared for an earthquake that could potentially cause lost power, broken sewage and water pipes, and possible landslides?

“I doubt I’d be very prepared if a big earthquake were to hit,” said junior Maddy Cuyler. “I know my family doesn’t have an earthquake kit or a plan of action, which is probably not the safest bet when we live where we do.”

While many people feel unprepared, it’s fairly easy to ensure your safety should a big earthquake occur. It can be as simple as buying a plastic container and searching online for earthquake kit necessities that can be stored easily in the garage.

Establishing a relative or long distance contact that your family can communicate with if local lines are down with keep your family in touch if you are separated.

For more information on earthquake preparedness and safety, visit USGS.gov.