The Next “BIG” One?

If you’re from the Bay Area and have not experienced an earthquake than its more than likely someone has at least told you about their experience. If not then it’s important to know that it’s not if, it’s when, the next earthquake is going to happen, which means earthquake preparedness is essential.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) California has more than a 99 percent chance of having a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake within the next 30 years, according to scientists using a new model to determine the probability of big quakes. According to For northern California, the most likely source of such earthquakes is the Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault (31 percent in the next 30 years).

Such quakes can be deadly, as shown by the 1989 magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta and the 1994 magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquakes. The new study determined the probabilities that different parts of California will experience earthquake ruptures of various magnitudes.

The USGS went on to state the new statewide probabilities are the result of a model that comprehensively combines information from seismology, earthquake geology, and geodesy (measuring precise locations on the Earth’s surface). For the first time, probabilities for California having a large earthquake in the next 30 years can be forecast statewide.

I asked Suzanne Maher, a professor of Geography at Chabot College what makes an earthquake happen. “When two tectonic plates move in opposite directions rocks get stuck in between those plates stopping the movement of the plates and creating pressure. When that pressure is released the plates move in their respective directions releasing energy that creates the shaking you feel during the earthquake. If the ground is mostly loose gravel and sand, it will cause liquefaction which is the sinking of the ground. We can’t predict earthquakes, but we can prepare to minimize the damage and our response time for when the event takes place.”

After learning more about what makes an earthquake take place it made me want to know what students should do if they were on campus during a major earthquake, so I contacted Mike Woods, Sergeant of the Hayward Police Department and Director of Campus Security and Safety at Chabot College.

I asked him what his first responsibility in the case of a major earthquake?” Woods said, “to make sure structural integrity is intact in case we may need to evacuate a building. Secondly, assess what injuries that may have occurred and try to get them the correct medical attention. Now, while this is happening our EverBridge Emergency Notification System should alert everyone via text, email, and cell phone and in worst case scenario and all system are down we will go around with a bullhorn to alert everyone. We practice the great shakeout drill and we practice the fire drill simultaneously the evacuation map is located at the end of every hallway in all of the building so people can be aware of what to do in case of an emergency.”

For more information about what to do during an earthquake visit to learn more.

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