Surviving The Big One

MAP: Here are the Bay Area’s most dangerous faults

Surviving The Big One

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Where ever you live in the Bay Area, a fault line is nearby.

In fact, the U.S. Geological Survey says there are at least 32 faults and researchers say each one has the potential to cause major damage.

“Both the Hayward fault and the San Andreas fault are relatively long, and they have relatively short recurrence times for earthquakes of a couple hundred years,” said Belle Philibosian, research geologist with the USGS.

Philibosian says lesser known faults measuring shorter in length, like West Napa, which caused the 6.0 earthquake in 2014, may rupture less frequently — say every 1,000 years.

Regardless, they can still produce deadly and destructive quakes.

“But because there are lots of these little faults, eventually, every so often, if you look at all of them in aggregate, you’ll have an earthquake on at least one of them more frequently then every thousand years,” Philibosian said.

Philibosian says we’re currently within a 30-year window, during which there is a 72 percent likelihood of a 6.7 earthquake or larger happening in the Bay Area.

“The Hayward fault passes right through this curb and has gradually off-set it,” she said.

A probability map shows a 33-percent chance of that massive quake happening along the Hayward fault, which is considered the most dangerous in the U.S.

The Calaveras Faulty is second at 26 percent.

The San Andreas fault is third at 22 percent.

The Hunting Creek, Berryessa, Green Valley, Concord fault system right behind at 16 percent and the San Gregorio fault line follows at 6 percent.

“This giant rock gets shaken, and down it goes. You look up and see all these fissures in these boulders,” said Richard Schwartz, Bay Area historian and author of the book “Earthquake Exodus 1906.”

Past quakes have been powerful enough to split boulders in north Berkeley, where the northern Hayward Fault passes through.

“The name of the game is, the more you prepare, the more you’ll increase your luck,” said Schwartz.

He worries most about the Rogers Creek Fault.

It runs underneath San Pablo Bay and into Marin County then connects to the Hayward Fault.

“In 1868, that earthquake was in Hayward. The closer that earthquake epicenter is to Oakland and Berkeley, I would think the more the odds are it might pop open the Northern Hayward fault, which might unlock the Rogers Creek fault, and then you have a much larger earthquake,” Schwartz.

One, that despite all of the data, is still impossible to predict.


Below is a look at all of California’s faults.

Fault descriptions courtesy: U.S. Geological Survey

>>Click here to type in your address to see if you’re on a fault

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