UCERF3: A new earthquake forecast for California's complex fault system

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With innovations, fresh data, and lessons learned from recent earthquakes, scientists have developed a new earthquake forecast model for California, a region under constant threat from potentially damaging events. The new model, referred to as the third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, or "UCERF", provides authoritative estimates of the magnitude, location, and likelihood of earthquake fault rupture throughout the state. Overall the results confirm previous findings, but with some significant changes because of model improvements. For example, compared to the previous forecast (Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast 2), the likelihood of moderate-sized earthquakes (magnitude 6.5 to 7.5) is lower, whereas that of larger events is higher. This is because of the inclusion of multifault ruptures, where earthquakes are no longer confined to separate, individual faults, but can occasionally rupture multiple faults simultaneously. The public-safety implications of this and other model improvements depend on several factors, including site location and type of structure (for example, family dwelling compared to a long-span bridge). Building codes, earthquake insurance products, emergency plans, and other risk-mitigation efforts will be updated accordingly. This model also serves as a reminder that damaging earthquakes are inevitable for California. Fortunately, there are many simple steps residents can take to protect lives and property.

Document Type: 

  • Fact Sheet


  • critical issues, database publication, earthquake, hazards, california