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Bay Area Earthquake Probabilities

Bay Area Earthquake Probabilities

In 2008, scientists and engineers announced a new earthquake forecast for the State of California.  The report was called the Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF), and it was a collection of information put together by the USGS (United States Geological Survey), the CGS (California Geological Survey), and the SCEC (Southern California Earthquake Center).  This new report, with support from the California Earthquake Authority, updated an earlier earthquake forecast for all of California, including the Bay Area, made by WG02, the 2002 Working Group for California Earthquake Probabilities (a committee of about 100 earthquake experts).

So what is the report’s bottom line?  Experts believe that between 2008 and 2038, there’s a 63% chance (about 2 out of 3) an earthquake of magnitude 6.7 or greater will happen somewhere between Monterey and Mendocino, in the San Francisco Bay Area.  There is an even greater chance (80% – about 4 out of 5) that an earthquake between 6.0 and 6.7 will happen during that same time period.  Don’t consider this an earthquake prediction, however, but rather a statement of the odds.  This current assessment of earthquake risk for the San Francisco Bay Area (UCERF) did not change the odds much from earlier forecasts.

In the Bay Area, the earthquake probability is highest for the Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault system at 31% – or almost 1 out of 3.  The last damaging earthquake on the Hayward Fault was in 1868.   It is interesting to note that the little over 140 years since 1868 is the same length of time as the average interval between the past five large earthquakes on the southern part of the Hayward Fault.

The probability of a strong and potentially devastating earthquake on the San Andreas Fault in the next 30 years is approximately 21%, or close to 1 out of 5.  Keep in mind that this fault has been responsible for several other tremendously powerful quakes, including the 1906 San Francisco earthquake (magnitude 7.8) and the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake (magnitude 6.9).

As we have seen around the globe in the last several years, earthquakes can happen at any time and in any place, not just close to a major fault line.  Many old commercial facilities are dangerously unprepared to withstand the force of even rather small tremors.  If you are a commercial property owner, now is the time to strengthen your building.  An earthquake retrofit provides current structures with the strength to withstand the powerful forces of an earthquake.  In commercial buildings, this process typically includes strengthening inadequate connectors found in roof to wall connections, shear walls, continuity ties, and the roof diaphragm.

Commercial buildings, manufacturing facilities, and warehouses that were built prior to the beginning of this century most likely need to be strengthened with an earthquake retrofit.  Past commercial building codes were not as strict as they are today; therefore, it is a sound practice to inspect commercial-type buildings constructed prior to 2000, as they were built before the current structural codes/requirements were developed.

Considering the odds are pretty good that “The Big One” could happened at any time within the next 30 years, now is the time to ensure the safety and security of your building’s employees, machinery and inventory with an earthquake retrofit.  To find out more about whether your commercial property in the Bay Area should be strengthened and reinforced to withstand the impact of an earthquake, be sure to call Saunders Commercial Earthquake Retrofit Bay Area today!


Northern California Office

(408) 267-3876

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