If 'big one' hits, how bad will it be?


Earthquake on little-known fault could cause worst disaster in U.S. history

WHAT: A news briefing will be held to present new estimates of losses from earthquakes on the Puente Hills fault under Los Angeles. Researchers created shaking scenarios for magnitude 7.2 to 7.5 earthquakes and used software from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to calculate losses. Estimated damage is greater than for a repeat of the historic 1857 San Andreas Fault earthquake. Total damages could climb to more than $250 billion, with 3,000 to 18,000 fatalities and 142,000 to 735,000 displaced households.

A research paper detailing the findings appears in the May issue of Earthquake Spectra. This analysis does not include the potential for losses from other fault activity in the area.

The Puente Hills fault was discovered in 1999. Full ruptures of the fault are rare. In 2003, a USC-led team from the Southern California Earthquake Center found that the fault has ruptured at least four times in 11,000 years. WHO: The following experts will participate (* denotes a research paper co-author):

-*Thomas Jordan, SCEC director, USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences
-*Edward (Ned) Field, U.S. Geological Survey (Lead author)
-Lucy Jones, U.S. Geological Survey
-*Hope Seligson, ABS Consulting Inc.
-*Kenneth Campbell, EQECAT Inc.
-James Dolan, USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences
-Rob Graves, URS Corporation
-Farzad Naeim, John A. Martin & Associates
-Jeff Lusk, FEMA, Dept. of Homeland Security
-Stephen Sellers, CA Governor's Office of Emergency Services

WHEN: Wednesday, May 25 at 10 A.M.

WHERE: Southern California Earthquake Center, first floor, Zumberge Hall of Science, USC. From Exposition Boulevard, enter campus through Gate 1 at Watt Way. You will be directed to Parking Structure A. From there, walk east on Bloom Walk to Trousdale Parkway. Zumberge Hall is on the northwest corner of Bloom and Trousdale. Television vans: Request access to Bloom Walk, drive east and park near the building. For more detailed directions, call 213-740-5843 or visit www.scec.org/aboutscec/maps/room169.html.

VISUALS: Animations in 3D of an earthquake along the fault, showing seismic waves propagating outward; a 3D animation of all known faults in Southern California; still images of the shaking expected from quakes of varying magnitudes on the fault.

MORE: Also to be presented at the briefing: a comprehensive earthquake awareness booklet with a coupon for quake preparedness supplies, available at home improvement stores.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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