A look at what makes the Bay Area so susceptible to earthquakes

As the 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake approaches, the U.S. Geological Survey is urging people to be prepared for another significant earthquake in the Bay Area, sometime in the near future.

USGS research geophysicist Brad Aagaard has been studying the region’s faults for decades. “For the Hayward Fault and Rodgers Creek Fault, it’s a 1 in 3 chance in the next 30 years,” he says. “San Andreas is 1 in 5. That’s based on our GPS measurements and past history of how often large earthquakes occur on those faults, and how long it’s been since the most recent large earthquake along those faults.”

In an interview with KTVU Chief Meteorologist Bill Martin, Aagaard explained the Bay Area’s position on earth makes it especially susceptible to earthquakes. “We live right on the plate boundary between the Pacific Plate off the coast and the North American plate, that’s the North American continent. The Pacific Plate is slowly moving to the north, relative to the North American plate.” Aagaard adds that the Bay Area has several major faults, with the Hayward and San Andreas faults being the most capable of a large earthquake. “The Hayward Fault is unique in that there is long term creep. We can actually very well ID where the fault is because we see offsets in curbs, fences, cracks,” Aagaard notes. “No matter where you live you have to be prepared because you don’t know how close you’ll be to the next destructive earthquake.”

Read the USGS outlook for the San Francisco Bay Area region: https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2016/3020/fs20163020.pdf