EARTH Magazine: The Bay Area's Next ''Big One'' Could Strike as a Series of Quakes

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EARTH Magazine: The Bay Area’s Next “Big One” Could Strike as a Series of Quakes


Megan Sever (


Alexandria, Va. — Most people are familiar with the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and are aware of the earthquake risk posed to the Bay Area — and much of California — by the San Andreas Fault. Most people are not aware, however, that a cluster of large earthquakes struck the San Andreas and quite a few nearby faults in the 17th and 18th centuries. That cluster, according to new research, released about the same amount of energy throughout the Bay Area as the 1906 quake. Thus, it appears that the accumulated stress on the region’s faults could be released in a series of moderate to large quakes on satellite faults, rather than a single great event on the San Andreas. But how this information might change the hazard forecast for the Bay Area is uncertain, scientists say.  

Read more about the recently uncovered paleoseismic evidence and what earthquake clustering might indicate for hazard risks in the September issue of EARTH Magazine:

For more stories about the science of our planet, check out EARTH magazine online or subscribe at The September issue, now available on the digital newsstand, features stories about how scientists are using digital cameras to create 3-D topographical maps, how warm river water is melting Arctic sea ice, and a jaunt through the spectacular rocks of the Australian Outback, plus much, much more.  


Keep up to date with the latest happenings in Earth, energy and environment news with EARTH magazine online at: Published by the American Geosciences Institute, EARTH is your source for the science behind the headlines.

The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of 49 geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society's use of resources, resiliency to natural hazards, and interaction with the environment.

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