Researchers: Next Big California Earthquake Could Happen Soon

NU Online News Service, Aug. 23, 3:09 p.m. EDT

The San Andreas fault has rumbled much more frequently over the last 700 years than commonly believed, and the next major earthquake could happen soon, researchers have found.

"If you're waiting for someone to tell you when we're close to the next San Andreas earthquake, just look at the data," said University of California-Irvine seismologist Lisa Grant Ludwig, in a statement.

A report she and other researchers have written is due out early next month in the journal Geology.

UC Irvine and Arizona State University researchers charted earthquakes going back 700 years by digging trenches and taking charcoal samples. The research team found quakes have occurred on one portion of the fault--the Carrizo Plain--every 45 to 144 years, which is much more frequent than the widely accepted belief that an earthquake occurs every 250 to 400 years, and also more frequent than the 235-year average used in recent seismic hazard evaluations.

Ms. Ludwig said the finding "puts the exclamation point" on the need for California's residents, legislators and regulators to be ready.

The results of the study have been available to the scientific community for several years, said Mary Lou Zoback, vice president of earthquake risk applications for Risk Management Solutions (RMS). The new likelihoods "are already incorporated in our models," said Ms. Zoback.

Researchers said their findings concluded not all earthquakes were as strong as had been thought, but they still ranged between magnitude 6.6 and 7.9.

However, the last big quake happened 153 years ago--a 7.8 magnitude earthquake at Fort Tejon, Calif. It was one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded in the United States and left a long rupture scar along the fault, according to the Southern California Earthquake Data Center. Yet only two people died as a result of the temblor as California at that time was sparsely populated.

Standard homeowners, renters and business insurance policies do not cover damage from earthquakes. Coverage is available either in the form of an endorsement or as a separate policy. The California Earthquake Authority, a privately funded organization, writes the most earthquake insurance in the country. Only about 12 percent of California residents currently have earthquake coverage, down from more than 33 percent in 1996, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Comments

Resource Center

View All »

Complimentary Case Study: Helping achieve your financial goals By:...

Find out how a Special Investigation Union used TLOxp to save the company money and...

Do Your Clients Hold The Right CDL License?

Learn about the various classes of CDL Licenses and the industries that are impacted by...

Integrated Content & Communications: A Key Business Issue For Insurers

Insurers are renewing their focus on top line growth, and many are learning that growth...

High Risk Insurance Coverage in the E&S Market

Experts discuss market conditions, trends and projected growth in a rapidly changing niche.

Top E-Signature Security Requirements

This white paper covers the most important security features to look for when evaluating e-signatures...

EPLI Programs Crafted Just For Your Clients

Bring us your restaurant clients, associations and other groups and we’ll help you win more...

Is It Time To Step Up And Own An Agency?

Download this eBook for insight on how to determine if owning an agency is right...

Claims - The Good The Bad And The Ugly

Fraudulent claims cost the industry and the public thousands of dollars in losses. This article...

Leveraging BI for Improved Claims Performance and Results

If claims organizations do not avail themselves of the latest business intelligence (BI) tools, they...

Top 10 Legal Requirements for E-Signatures in Insurance

Want to make sure you’ve covered all your bases when adopting e-signatures? Learn how to...

Personal Lines Pro eNewsletter

Critical insights into the personal auto, homeowners, and other consumer insurance markets to help P&C professionals stay informed – FREE! Sign Up Now!

Advertisement. Closing in 15 seconds.