There’s good news and bad news on the California earthquake front. The good news is the U.S. Geological Survey recently adjusted the chance of having a moderate magnitude quake down by about 30 percent. The bad news is that reduction comes from a change in modeling that also increased the risk of an 8.0 or larger magnitude event to nearly seven percent.
“The new likelihoods are due to the inclusion of possible multi-fault ruptures, where earthquakes are no longer confined to separate, individual faults, but can occasionally rupture multiple faults simultaneously,” USGS scientist Ned Field said in a statement.
“This is a significant advancement in terms of representing a broader range of earthquakes throughout California’s complex fault system.”
The USGS and its partners released the Third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast last week. The report updates the previous 2007 forecast with calculations that took into account an additional 240,000 fault-based earthquakes and included an additional 100 faults, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.
“The message to the average citizen hasn’t changed. You live in earthquake country, and you should live every day like it’s the day a Big One could hit,” Field is quoted as saying in the Los Angeles Times.
That message isn’t necessarily heard by most Californians, though. The Insurance Journal, reports less than 10 percent of the state has coverage for quakes. That number compares with less-often struck states such as Oregon at 20 percent covered and Washington at 12 percent.
It remains to be seen whether or not a bleaker forecast for large-scale quakes will ramp up individual insurance sales. The City of Los Angeles, meanwhile, began taking a more aggressive stance on earthquake preparedness in recent years, joining cities like San Francisco that see the writing on the earthquake wall. L.A.’s mayor’s office released its Resilience by Design, a laundry list of actions the City must take to be safer, in December. The report was presented to the public last month by the mayor’s seismic Safety advisor Lucy Jones, who pointed out every action is a step toward safer homes and infrastructure.
"Even if we only get to part of this, it's the biggest step forward that we've ever seen," said Jones. "This earthquake is absolutely inevitable. Let's get ready for it."