The nation’s top earthquake experts gathered this week to talk about the loaded gun that is the San Andreas Fault Line

Southern California is overdue for an 8.0 magnitude earthquake courtesy of the San Andreas fault line, the nation’s leading seismologists warned this week.

To put that into perspective, an 8.0 quake is 60 times more powerful and six times longer than the 1994 Northridge quake that killed 57 people, injured thousands and caused tens of billions in damage.

The San Andreas, which hasn’t had a major, pressure-relieving quake since the 1800s, is “Locked, loaded, and ready to roll,” scientists told a crowd assembled at the National Earthquake Conference in Long Beach.

The last big quake along the state’s longest faultline was a 7.8 temblor in 1857.

“The springs on the San Andreas system have been wound very, very tight. And the southern San Andreas fault, in particular, looks like it’s locked, loaded and ready to go,” Thomas Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center told the assembled crowd, according to the Los Angeles Times.


Earthquake simulations show several densely populated areas that would be hit hardest if the Big One strikes. A quake epicentered in the Salton Sea area would send some of the hardest jolts to the Coachella Valley region and East Los Angeles where loose sediment ensures residents could endure a full two minutes of hard shaking.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, an 8.0 magnitude quake could kill more than 1,800 people, injure 50,000 more and cause hundreds of billions in damage.

Historically, large earthquakes of that size have caused soil liquefaction in coastal areas and the Los Angeles basin where trees can actually sink into the soil. An 8.0 earthquake in the Bay Area would cause strong shaking as far south as Mexico, according to the Southern California Earthquake Center.

The good news? There’s not a lot when it comes to massive earthquake predictions, but local and state agencies have instituted building requirements and mandatory earthquake retrofitting to help California withstand the shaking better than other regions devastate by massive quakes.

Here’s how you can prepare for earthquakes:

  1. Secure tall heavy, furniture to the walls
  2. Create an family disaster plan including backup means of communicating with one another if cell phone towers are down such as designating an out of state relative to serve as a point of contact, or establishing an emergency family hashtag for communicating
  3. Maintain an earthquake survival kit including: a first aid kit, food and water for a week, medications, spare eyeglasses and contact lens solution, copies of ID cards and insurance cards, pet supplies, flashlight, blankets, batteries, solar powered chargers, a whistle, cash, list of important phone numbers, Toiletries, plastic bags, cooking utensils, a wrench to turn off gas and water


Drop cover and hold on. Doorways are no longer considered a safe place to wait out a quake. Experts advice taking cover under sturdy furniture. Evacuate when it is safe to do so.

Seismic Hazard Zonation Program

Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zoning Act (1972) and the Seismic Hazards Mapping Act (1990) direct the State Geologist to delineate regulatory “Zones of Required Investigation” to reduce the threat to public health and safety and to minimize the loss of life and property posed by earthquake-triggered ground failures. Cities and counties affected by the zones must regulate certain development “projects” within them. These Acts also require sellers of real property (and their agents) within a mapped hazard zone to disclose at the time of sale that the property lies within such a zone.