Earthquake Experts Gather in Palm Springs

News Staff


Over 700 earthquake experts from all over the globe gathered in Palm Springs for the annual Southern California Earthquake Center Meeting. 

"This is the premier meeting for earthquake scientists," says Jason Ballmann the communications director for SCEC.  

Here scientists share information they learned through research and earthquake activity during the past year and plan ahead. The goal is to take what they learn and find ways to share it with people outside their community in order to save lives.

"So that we can have stronger building codes, we also want to learn more about our earthquake hazards so that we can give people, the public more information to make better decisions about how they can get prepared," says Ballmann. 

Experts say the San Andreas fault that goes through the Coachella Valley is capable of producing up to a magnitude 8.4 earthquake and it’s long overdue. 

"It’s been over 300 years since the last earthquake and they average about 150 years apart so there’s a lot of energy stored for a big earthquake," says Dr. Lucy Jones, founder of the Center for Science and Society.  

Ballmann says the Northridge quake in 1994 was a magnitude 6.7 or the equivalent of one atomic bomb, and an 8.4 earthquake would dwarf that, "A magnitude 8.3 or 8.4 earthquake along the San Andreas fault would be almost 1000 times more energy released than the magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquake that’s pretty much incomprehensible." 

And Ballmann says that’s not the only earthquake hazard here, "It’s not just about the San Andreas fault it’s about all the other faults that are around it and all the other problems that we can have from those two, this is a really geologically complex area."

That’s makes being prepared for any size quake in the Coachella Valley a must.

"Earthquakes are going to continue to happen we need to know how to prepare to survive and recover from all the earthquakes in our future," says Ballmann. 

Ballmann suggests everyone visit the Earthquake Country Alliance to learn the seven steps everyone should know and implement that will better your chances of surviving an earthquake, he says the most important step is not getting a kit, it’s securing your surroundings so falling objects don’t hurt you on the way down or injure you once they’re broken on the floor. 

And don’t forget to register and practice: DROP, COVER AND HOLD ON on October 20 at 10:20 a.m. for the Great California Shake Out drill. 

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