Scientists unveil new quake 3D animations


THE USGS unveiled a new 3D version of what could happen when the next big one hits.

It's the latest 3D animation from the U.S. Geological Survey, showing the severity of shaking that would occur during a 7.0 earthquake on the Hayward Fault.

The epicenter is near downtown Oakland, and as many as 5,400 people would have been killed. The total losses: more than $200 billion.

The most vulnerable structures are those that are hollow at the bottom, with a garage supporting several floors above, like the ones that collapsed in San Francisco during the 1989 Loma Prieta quake.

"What we're really concerned about are the older buildings, particularly apartment buildings, the soft story style of construction. Many people live in these who are completely unaware that these buildings are at risk," said Mary Lou Zoback from Risk Management Solutions.

Many of those structures could be made less-vulnerable by retrofitting.

In the next big quake, only about seven to eight percent of the damaged buildings and their contents would be covered by insurance.

If there's any good news in the USGS report, it's that the next big quake probably won't exceed 7.2 on the Richter scale.

"It could potentially approach a 7.1, but we wouldn't expect anything larger than that on the Hayward fault itself. To get to a larger magnitude event, you have to get to a longer fault," said USGS seismologist Brad Aagaard.

Nonetheless, a 7.0 quake on the Hayward Fault would cause catastrophic damage, just like the big quake of 1868 did 140 years ago. That one damaged nearly every building in Hayward and killed 30 people.

The last five big quakes along the Hayward fault have occurred about 140 years apart. The anniversary of the 1868 quake is coming up on October 21st.

Related Links:
Earthquake scenario: Hayward Fault.

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