U.S.G.S. predicts Bay Area 6.7 quake within 30 years | September 11, 2009 | Danville Express | DanvilleSanRamon.com |


Danville Express

Newsfront - September 11, 2009

U.S.G.S. predicts Bay Area 6.7 quake within 30 years

Earthquake specialist outlines Danville potential for 'Big One'

by Geoff Gillette

As scientists learn more and more regarding the sheer number of faults buried deep in the ground in the San Ramon Valley, officials say the chances of a large scale quake striking sometime in the next several years continues to grow.

U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake scientist Dr. David Schwarz addressed members of the Town Council on Tuesday about the issue of earthquake awareness and the need for the town and its residents to make adequate preparations.

Schwarz, a Danville resident, gave the council a tour of the various large scale faults in the East Bay, which include the Hayward fault to the west, the Calaveras and Greenville fault lines to the east and the Concord/Green Valley faults to the north.

Schwarz said the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta quake is a good time to revisit the dangers of earthquakes and remind people to safeguard themselves and their homes.

"Loma Prieta was a catalyst," Schwarz stated. "It really changed the way we viewed earthquakes here in the Bay Area."

The Oct. 17, 1989, earthquake struck along the San Andreas fault near San Francisco generating a 6.9 magnitude seismic event. The quake claimed 63 lives, injured thousands more, and left from 3,000-8,000 people homeless.

In 2003, the U.S.G.S. conducted a probability study for the Bay Area, which concluded that in the next 30 years there is a 67 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 earthquake.

Schwarz said if the parameters of that study were narrowed to just the East Bay, the probability would be 40 percent-50 percent. And if they were narrowed further to just the San Ramon Valley, the chance would be 15 percent-27 percent of a large scale quake.

"It's up to you to prepare for it," said Schwarz. "The U.S.G.S. site has a lot of information but there are other places with information as well."

He pointed to the East Bay Earthquake Alliance as one. He said its Web site, www.bayquakealliance.org, has a lot of good information on how to prepare for an earthquake.

On Oct. 15, there will be a statewide disaster preparedness drill called the Great California Shakeout.

"It's basically a drop, duck and hold exercise," Schwarz said. He said residents can get information on the Shakeout at www.shakeout.org.

Danville Emergency Services Director Greg Gilbert said that the town is also a great resource for information on disaster preparedness.

"We attack that on a number of fronts," Gilbert stated. "Public education and public outreach is one. We need to make people aware of the hazards in the area and give them ways to help prepare themselves."

Gilbert said they work with the community in a variety of ways, including offering classes in disaster response. The Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) courses are held all throughout the year. They take residents through several levels of preparedness and teach the community to be able to provide solid assistance to first responders in a disaster.

The next CERT class being offered by the town and the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District is Sept. 10. Information on the class can be found on the SRVFPD Web site, www.firedepartment.org.

Gilbert said initially though, the best thing residents can do to be prepared for a natural disaster is to have emergency kits where they are most needed, based on the individual's lifestyle.

"It's not very good if you're in your car and you're stuck and all you're eating is tic tacs," he said. "If you're at work a lot, or home a lot or in the car a lot you should have kits tailored to that."

Area residents will be able to get information on what types of items to keep in an emergency kit as well as a number of other disaster related issues at the upcoming Emergency Preparedness Fair. Set from 9 a.m.–2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 12, the fair will be held at the LDS Church 655 Old Orchard Road.