Skip to comments.Next Big Quake? Maybe East of Bay Area
Posted on 03/27/2006 3:12:02 PM PST by LibWhacker
HAYWARD, Calif. (AP) -- New cracks appear in Elke DeMuynck's ceiling every few weeks, zigzagging across her living room, creeping toward the fireplace, veering down the wall. Month after month, year after year, she patches, paints and waits.
"It definitely lets you know your house is constantly shifting," DeMuynck said. So do the gate outside that swings uselessly 2 1/2 inches from its latch, the strange bulges in the street and the geology students who make pilgrimages to her cul-de-sac.
DeMuynck could throw her paint brush from her front stoop and hit the Hayward Fault, which geologists consider the most dangerous in the San Francisco Bay Area, if not the nation. Like others who live here, she gets by on a blend of denial, hope and humor.
It's the geologists, emergency planners and historians who seem to do most of the worrying, even in this year of heightened earthquake awareness for the 100th anniversary of San Francisco's Great Quake of April 18, 1906.
Several faults lurk beneath this region, including the San Andreas Fault on the west side of the Bay area, but geologists say the parallel Hayward on the Bay's east side is the most likely to snap next.
"It is locked and loaded and ready to fire at any time," said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Tom Brocher.
The Hayward Fault runs through one of the country's most densely populated areas; experts say 2 million people live close enough to be strongly shaken by a big quake.
It slices the earth's crust along a 50-mile swath of suburbia east of San Francisco, from exclusive hilltop manors overlooking the bay to Hayward's humble flatlands. It snakes beneath highway bridges, strip malls, nursing facilities and retirement centers, and it splits the uprights of the football stadium at the University of California, Berkeley.
"A lot of these structures are going to come down," said David P. Schwartz, chief of the USGS's Bay Area Earthquake Hazards Project. He spoke with one foot on either side of the fault, marked by a crack that snaked through a parking lot in Hayward's business district.
Before San Francisco's Great Quake of 1906, on the San Andreas fault, there was the Great Quake of 1868 on the Hayward, a magnitude 6.9 rumbler that killed five people. Severe quakes have happened on the Hayward Fault every 151 years, give or take 23 years, meaning it is now into the danger zone.
Experts forecast the next big one will be in the potentially lethal 6.7 to 7.0 range. The Association of Bay Area Governments estimates it would wipe out some 155,000 housing units, 37,000 in San Francisco alone.
The ground on each side of the fault could shift 3 feet, meaning two objects on opposite sides could be abruptly carried a total of 6 feet apart, Schwartz said.
The Hayward Fault runs directly beneath Eden Jewelry and Loan, but the men working in the pawn shop shrugged when asked if they fear a quake.
"Honestly, it's a non-issue," said Saul Gevertz, 64.
The building was renovated about five years ago and now is essentially an enormous steel cage, designed to flex in an earthquake without breaking, said one of the building's co-owners, Darrell Davidson.
"I'm not worried-worried. I've thought about it," said Davidson, 47. "I think we're in good shape. I hope to God we are."
Nickey Avila acknowledged some alarm when informed that the fractures in the pavement outside his house were caused by the fault.
"I'm thinking one day it's going to move, but if I survive it, I'll be able to say I survived one of the biggest quakes of all time," said Avila, 23.
The quake could come at any moment.
"If it moved while we were walking, it wouldn't surprise me," Schwartz said during a tour of Hayward's misaligned street curbs, warped concrete gutters and abandoned buildings. They include the former Hayward City Hall, deemed too dangerous to occupy because it's right on the fault.
The City Hall was built in 1930, during an unusually quake-free period after the Great Quake of 1906 released stress on all faults in the region.
A "virtual tour" developed by the USGS shows the Hayward Fault slashing through identifiable structures, like DeMuynck's house, but she is resolved not to worry.
"There's dangers all around us, all the time, so if we thought about those dangers all the time, we wouldn't have anything else to think about," said DeMuynck, 62. "We just come home and say, 'The house is still here.' We're OK for another day."
On the Net:
USGS Bay Area Earthquake Hazards Project: http://walrus.wr.usgs.gov/cencal/
Northern California Quake Hazards: http://quake.wr.usgs.gov/
Great Quake Centennial: http://www.1906centennial.org
Shaking Hazard Maps: http://www.abag.ca.gov/bayarea/eqmaps/pickcity.html
I think every house in CA has new cracks every year!
I used to live a few hundred yards from the stadium. I remember when someone decided to draw a line across campus marking the fault. I was taken aback seeing how close my apartment was to the fault. But then I realized that in the case of a major quake, it made little difference whether one was on top of the fault or a couple of miles away.
After seeing all the people in the street, I would leave soon.
What amazes me is the lack of concern or preparation by a lots of at risk people. The other day I was talking to a neighbor about the "Big One" and she very casually commented that she hadn't done a thing to prepare because she was planning on simply leaving in her car to stay with relatives in the LA area if there was an earthquake.
I asked her how she planned on crossing all the bridges that would be out and the fact that there might be a million other people with the same idea clogging up the roads.
Her lack of an answer said a lot.
If you live in the area, please prepare. Remember New Orleans. It may be several days to a week before rescuers get to you and you have to be able to survive until they do.
FEMA will take care of her!
That's their job isn't it, helping people who couldn't be bothered to prepare for a disaster?
Check the ground level. How many dams in the area, how many seawalls, how many canals.
The Oakland hills won't flood, but a lot of bayside/riverside developments will with the bridges connecting them knocked out.
Oh, before anyone else says it, It's all Bush's (and the Hayward) Fault!
"Earthquake ain't a flood."
Of course it ain't, but if you live here and don't prepare for the earthquake, than you are pretty much begging to be a victim.
She's crazy. Her house is telling her, in no uncertain terms, to "GET OUT!"
SF will one day regret banning the USS Iowa..
We live about 1,000 feet away from the Calaveras Fault. I cross it twice a day commuting to work. My commute also carries me across the Hayward Fault twice a day. In addition, I work about 2.5 miles away from the San Andreas Fault. I also have to drive across San Francisco Bay twice a day. In spite of all of that, I will be the first to admit that we are woefully ill-prepared for any "big one" which might strike.
The problem is, you can go out and buy all sorts of canned food and bottled water, and spend a lot of money. But canned food, and bottled water has a shelf life. What do you do after it has been sitting there for a year or two, and is no longer safe to consume?? Do you keep buying tons of canned food and bottled water once every one or two years, and throw away the supplies from the previous 2 years?? I'll admit that it might be the safest thing to do, but it also seems like such a waste of groceries, especially when money is tight (yes, I know - how could I afford NOT to?? It would be money well spent - don't say it!!).
At least when we lived in South Florida, we had a reasonable idea about when a hurricane might be striking our area, and we could go out and stock up. Unfortunately, there is no similar "forcast" available for an earthquake.
Here is a fascinating web site to look at. I like the photos of visible fault creep on the Hayward Fault, so that is where I will point the link below. However, this entire site is very informative. The "Zoomed Map" is really interesting, albeit a bit slow at times:
You rotate your food....either eat it within a year or donate it to a food bank.
Remember, if you dont prepare...all those Freepers outside the affected areas will be posting what a dumbass you are for living in CA. Even if you do prepare they will be posting that!
You don't buy food and throw it away. Warehouses, stores, and ships at sea practice what is known as stock rotation.
Buy the non-perishable foods you like to eat in a set quantity. Then as you consume the food (oldest date first) you replace it on a regular basis so as to always have your desired quantity on hand. You will be consuming food within expiration dates and have a store of food on hand for emergencies.
When my sister and her husband moved to Frisco last year, she consulted the USGS maps to make sure where they lived was on bedrock -- anything to up the chances of survival. They're camping nuts, so they have bug-out bags already packed to toss in the back of their Ford Taurus wagon (i.e., their Tank).
"They're camping nuts, so they have bug-out bags already packed to toss in the back of their Ford Taurus wagon."
My food, water, camping gear, firearms & family are all ready to camp out on the lawn if need be. My wife is a nurse and while we have some first-aid supplies, we could sure use more just in case there are folks in the neighborhood who need help. My biggest fear is being trapped at work separated from my family. Luckily, my house is up on a hill on solid bedrock.
"When my sister and her husband moved to Frisco last year."
"Frisco" is something people around here say in order to identify themselves as out-of-towners. The well-coached native refers to "The City" I'm not sure why, but it has been that way all my life.