a weblog by Schuyler D. Erle

Wed, 30 Jul 2003

[14:16] Major Quake Likely to Strike Bay Area by 2030

I discovered this little prognostication last night after being woken from a nap by a Richter 4.0 earthquake about 25 miles north of where I live, near Santa Rosa, California. The quake itself only lasted for a few seconds, shaking the house as if a large truck was passing right outside -- except that the house is over a thousand feet from the nearest road that could possibly carry such a truck at the requisite speed to cause that amount of shaking. It was just enough to yield that amazing moment of confusion wherein you can't figure out what the fuck is going on, before it dawns on you that the shaking couldn't be anything other than terra firma suddenly going not-so-firma.

Being the sucker for natural disasters dutiful citizen that I am, I prompted pulled out the laptop and went to the USGS earthquake site, waited for my particular quake to show up, and then filed a report. Having done this, I couldn't resist clicking the link marked "2003 Earthquake Probability Study", wherein it is revealed that the likelihood of a major quake (i.e. Richter 6.7 or greater) in the Bay Area over the next 30 years is, to the best scientific understanding, over sixty percent. Apparently, the relative dearth of devastating quakes in the Bay Area during the last century resulted from the "stress shadow" of the 8.3 Richter quake of 1906, which virtually levelled Santa Rosa (and is the reason there's no courthouse in Courthouse Square). Which means that in the meantime we've been building up to another big one.

So wouldn't you know it but that, according to the USGS, although there would be far worse places for an earthquake to happen around here, the most likely fault to go off in the next three decades, at a predicted magnitude of 7.0, is none other than the Rodgers Creek, which runs smack dab through the middle of Santa Rosa. We're talking down the street from my house, folks. And to think PG&E; wanted to build a nuclear power plant near here.

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