Waiting for the great shake

Photo Courtesy: Josh Adamson
Photo Courtesy: Josh Adamson

Photo Courtesy: Josh Adamson

By Josh Adamson |Staff Writer|

The city of San Bernardino, which lies squarely along the San Andreas Fault, faced an increased risk of a major earthquake in early October. Future major quakes are still possible.

Other nearby cities located on or near the fault include Palmdale and Desert Hot Springs.

The alert came after seismologists recorded several small quakes that occurred around 100 miles east of San Diego, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

“The recent swarm of earthquakes beneath the Salton Sea occurred close to the San Andreas fault, so the US Geological Survey issued an alert stating that this swarm could potentially be a foreshock to a magnitude seven or larger earthquake on the southern San Andreas fault,” stated Professor of Geology and Interim Chair, Sally McGill.

Simulations have shown that a major quake would be devastatingly destructive for San Bernardino County, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A quake like this could bury people beneath rubble in old downtown Inland Empire areas. Railways and the 15 freeway could be destroyed.

More than 1000 people could die, 50,000 could be injured, and damages may reach $200 billion.

“The occurrence of this earthquake swarm temporarily increased the chance of a major quake on the San Andreas fault, from one in 6000 in any given week to one in 100 during the week of the swarm,” stated McGill.

“I’m super concerned about earthquakes because I live on campus,” said student Tiffany Hoganson, who added that she felt unprepared to properly respond to a major quake.

“Now that some time has passed after the swarm, the probability of a large quake has dropped back to its previous level,” added McGill.

So-Cal residents face more risks of major earthquakes in the future.

“Over the next 30 years, there is a 59% probability of a large earthquake on the southern San Andreas fault,” stated McGill.

The recent alerts were the first to be widely disseminated across social media platforms.

“Some seismologists think this wide dissemination of earthquake alerts is a good idea, so that people can be aware of temporary increases in earthquake risk, others argue that the increased probability level during an alert is too low and is not understood well enough to justify a public alert,” stated McGill.

Students should use the opportunity provided by these alerts to learn about earthquake preparedness.

According to McGill, “This could include storing emergency water and food at your home, work place and in your car, buying a fire extinguisher for your home, teaching your children to drop, cover and hold during an earthquake; [and] reminding your children of where to go and whom to call after an earthquake.”

Other precautions include updating contact information and determining where to go and where to convene with household members in the event of a quake, said Geology Professor, Joan Fryxell.

Students agreed that precautionary steps are important.

“Evacuation routes should be studied in case of an earthquake,” said Hoganson.

“Personally, I hope people are well prepared for an earthquake, while [people] should be concerned, they do not need to be frightened about unnecessary issues,” added Fryxell.

Students and faculty should view this alert as a wake-up call to the earthquake risks that are part and parcel of the Inland Empire.

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