Scientists have unveiled a hypothetical Scenario describing how a magnitude 7.8 Southern California earthquake -similar to the recent earthquake in China- would impact the region, causing loss of lives and massive damage to infrastructure, including critical transportation, power, and water systems.
In the Scenario, the earthquake would kill 1800 people, injure 50,000, cause $200 billion in damage, and have long-lasting social and economic consequences. This is the most comprehensive analysis ever of what a major Southern California earthquake would mean, and is the scientific framework for what will be the largest earthquake preparedness drill in California history, scheduled for November 13, 2008.
The November preparedness exercise, "Golden Guardian '08," will test the ability of emergency responders to deal with the impact of a magnitude 7.8 earthquake on the San Andreas Fault in Southern California, and is being jointly organized by the Governor's Office of Emergency Services and the California Office of Homeland Security. The Golden Guardian exercise will occur during a week-long series of public events planned for the "Great Southern California ShakeOut." A June 4th kick-off event is planned for the "ShakeOut" to help communities plan to respond to the risks highlighted in the Scenario.
The scientific report describing the ShakeOut Scenario, jointly published by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the California Geological Survey (CGS), will be released May 21 during a Congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. The House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, led by Chairman Jim Costa (D-CA), will hold an oversight hearing on USGS efforts to prepare for future earthquakes.
Although imaginary, the Shakeout Scenario is based on scientists' best predictions of what would actually occur during and after a major earthquake on the San Andreas Fault.
The Scenario outlines a hypothetical earthquake in which:
Most of the damage is predictable and much is preventable. Individuals can protect themselves and help their community by:
"The planned emergency drill is underpinned by the most comprehensive analysis ever of what a major Southern California earthquake would mean on the ground," said Dr. Lucile Jones, chief scientist for U.S. Geological Survey's Southern California Multi-Hazards Demonstration Project. "We know this science will help state and local agencies develop comprehensive emergency-response plans that will help us avoid the worst impacts of a major quake."
The ShakeOut Scenario is the product of an interdisciplinary collaboration of over 300 scientists, engineers, and other experts from several agencies, including the USGS, the California Geological Survey, Southern California Earthquake Center, California Office of Emergency Services and Seismic Safety Commission.
To create the Scenario, geologists determined the amount of potential motion on the part of the San Andreas Fault with the greatest risk of imminent rupture, a 200-mile long section from the Salton Sea in the Coachella Valley to just south of Gorman. From this, seismologists and computer scientists modeled the ground shaking. Engineers and building professionals used the models of ground shaking to estimate damage to the built environment. And from these damages, social scientists evaluated emergency response, casualties, and the impact on our economy and society.
A copy of the full technical report, The ShakeOut Scenario, is available online at http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2008/1150.
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