If a 7.8 earthquake similar to Turkey happened here, how would we fare? Experts weigh in

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Tuesday, February 7, 2023
How would Bay Area fare in a 7.8 Turkey-like earthquake?
Thousands have died across Turkiye and Syria after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the area in the early hours of Monday morning local time.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Thousands have died across Turkiye and Syria after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the area in the early hours of Monday morning local time.

Footage showing the devastation with entire neighborhoods completely destroyed.

The true extent of the damage not yet known.

"It was a shock for the locals here, and obviously a bigger shock for those who experienced the shake," said Suleyman Yesilyurt.

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Back in the Bay Area, Yesilyurt helps run a local chapter of the Turkish American Religious Foundation.

He says several people in the organization have been impacted, and rushing to do whatever they can.

"Some of them, tonight they have flown out. They are leaving to be on the ground to check on their loved ones," Yesilyurt said.

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Following the quake, many have been asking how the Bay Area would fare if a similar seismic event were to happen here.

Stephen DeLong, of the US Geological Survey, says it's happened before.

"In historical records, there have been two earthquakes of similar magnitude in California. Both in 1906 in Northern California, the great San Francisco earthquake, and then in 1857, the Fort Tejon earthquake, in central California," DeLong said.

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DeLong says if an earthquake that size were to happen again, California would be better off than Turkiye- with far fewer deaths expected as well as substantially less overall destruction.

"We've had building codes for a very long time that have led to construction that is resilient to earthquake shaking. We wouldn't see the sort of widespread destruction here in California," he said.

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Turkiye is continuing to see aftershocks, with one of them as strong as a 7.5 on the Richter scale.

And DeLong says the shaking could last for some time.

"An earthquake of this size, we're going to see increased aftershock acitivity for weeks, months, maybe even years in this area," DeLong said.

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