California is currently in what seismologists call an “earthquake drought.” This means that California is long overdue for a “big one,” or “big ones.” The idea that huge earthquakes are likely to hit California within the next few decades is alarming, considering the fact that the state is heavily populated and is home to some of the densest cities in America. It is also a place that is highly sought after by tourists.
The state is due for a big earthquake because of the fact that the San Andrea fault system runs up the coastline. It is on the border of two tectonic plates—the North American Plate and the Pacific Plate. The plates slip past each other and create earthquakes. It has been estimated that by the year 2045, California will experience an earthquake that is a magnitude of 7.0 or higher.
For many years, there has been a culture of earthquake preparation in California due to the regular occurrence of minor earthquakes, as well as a history of serious earthquakes that have happened. There is an early version of an early warning system currently in use in California. Experts are doing their best to develop and improve it. Since 2008, the Great California Shakeout Drill has been held annually in schools to teach students about what to do when a major earthquake happens.
There are many hazards that the “big one” will bring. One of the most obvious hazards will be falling objects and buildings. However, there may also be fires and landslides. All of these things will add to casualty and death rates, and must be taken into consideration when building structures, making emergency plans and educating the public.