California Readies for the Big One

Over the centuries, historical and scientific records show, major earthquakes hit California every 45 to 145 years. But it has been nearly 154 years since the last Big One in 1857.

The ticking clock is spurring geologists and disaster experts in the state’s San Francisco Bay Area, Delta Region and Central Valley to prepare for the worst. A U.S. Geological Survey study conducted in 2008 projects a 99% chance that a 6.7 magnitude earthquake would strike somewhere in California during the next 30 years.

Homeland Security NewsWire published a roundup of some of the collective goals of earthquake preparedness agencies, including improving the understanding of earthquake process and impacts, developing cost-effective measures to reduce the impact on the individual, environment, and society, improving the earthquake resilience of communities worldwide, and updating seismic provisions of building codes and retrofitting existing structures.

Preparedness and awareness have increased during annual, statewide events such as the Great Southern California ShakeOut. In 2008, more than 5 million people participated, the NewsWire reports. In 2009, the number went up to 7 million, with a focus on school districts and family disaster plans.

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