California earthquake forecast
A California earthquake forecast, the 2008 Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, Version 2 (UCERF 2), has been prepared by the Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities (WGCEP). Of the hundreds of seismogenic (earthquake causing) geologic faults in California UCERF classifies only six faults as Type A sources, meaning there is sufficient information to both estimate and model the probability of a Magnitude (M) 6.7 or greater earthquake within 30 years. These six faults (summarized in Table A, below) are the: (1) San Andreas (split into northern and southern sections, (2) San Jacinto, (3) Elsinore, (4) Garlock, (5) Calaveras, and (6) Hayward-Rodgers Creek. Faults which are known to be slipping (and therefore seismogenic) but lack sufficient information to fully model how close they might be to rupture are classified as Type B. About twenty of these faults (see Table B) are estimated to have a 5% or greater chance of an M ≥ 6.7 earthquake within 30 years. An additional six areas where strain is accumulating but where knowledge is insufficient to apportion slip onto specific faults are classified as Type C sources.
There is additional chance of earthquakes on faults that were not modeled, and of lesser earthquakes. Northern California has an estimated 12% chance of an M ≥ 8 megathrust earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone. UCERF has also prepared "participation probability maps"  of the chance that any area will experience an earthquake above a certain magnitude from any source in the next 30 years (see figure).
UCERF probabilities of an earthquake on a given fault are based on four layers of modeling:
- A fault model of the fault's physical geometry.
- A deformation model of slip rates and related factors for each fault section.
- An earthquake rate model of the region.
- A probability model for estimating probability of an earthquake during a specified interval.
These are used to produce both time-independent and time-dependent forecasts of earthquake probabilities. The former are based on "stress-renewal" models of seismic stress being released by an earthquake, then renewing (or rebounding; see Elastic-rebound theory) until it triggers another earthquake. In time-dependent models the probability of a fault rupturing thus depends on how long stress has been accumulating since the last rupture. However, the details of how this happens are not adequately known, so time-dependent methods estimate the periodicity and currently accumulated strain based on observed seismicity. Out of this a time-independent earthquake rate model (ERM) is produced, from which the time-dependent probability model (UCERF) is derived. (For more information see "Can earthquakes be predicted?" in the External links.)
It should be noted that the concept of stress-renewal has been criticized, and may even be invalid,
These are the six geologic faults in California with sufficient data to use a stress-renewal model for estimating the probability of an M ≥ 6.7 earthquake within the next 30 years. The Hayward fault zone and Rodgers Creek fault are treated as a single fault; the San Andreas fault is treated as two sections. A complete listing of known Quaternary faults can be found at the U.S. Geological Survey's Quaternary Fault and Fold Database (QFFDB). Earthquake probabilities and other details from The Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, Version 2 (UCERF 2).
|Name||QFFDB fault#1||Maps1||Length2||Strike3||Type||Slip rate (mm/yr)4||Notable Earthquakes||30 yr. prob.5|
|Hayward/ Rodgers Creek Fault Zone||150 km
|N39°W||9.0||1868 Hayward earthquake||31%|
|San Andreas Fault north||472 km
|N12-36°W||Dextral strike-slip||17.0—24.0||1906 San Francisco earthquake||21%|
|San Andreas Fault south||546 km
|N67°W||Dextral strike-slip||10.0—34.0||1857 Fort Tejon earthquake||59%|
|San Jacinto Fault Zone||309 km
|N58°W||4.0—14.8||1918 San Jacinto earthquake||31%|
|Elsinore Fault Zone||249 km
|N51°W||2.5—5.0||1910 Elsinore earthquake||11%|
|Calaveras Fault||123 km
|N31°W||Dextral strike-slip||6.0—15.0||1911 Calaveras earthquake 
1979 Coyote Lake earthquake 
1984 Morgan Hill earthquake 
2007 Alum Rock earthquake 
|Garlock Fault||254 km
Notes for Table A.
1. Fault numbers and maps from USGS Quaternary Fault and Fold Database.
2. Lengths from UCERF-2, Table 4; may vary from QFFDB values.
3. Strikes (orientation) from QDFFB.
4. Slip rates from UCERF-2 Table 4; range reflects different sections.
5. Estimated probability of a M≥6.7 event in 30 years. From UCERF-2 Table 12.
Approximately twenty geologic faults in California are of "Type B" status, where the probability of an earthquake of M ≥ 6.7 in the next 30 years is estimated to be greater than 5%, but the data is insufficient for stress-renewal modeling. (Not to be confused with the USGS QFFDB class B category of faults of unknown or minor seismicity.)
|Name||QFFDB fault#2||Maps2||Length||Strike||Type||Slip rate (mm/yr)4||Notable Earthquakes||30 yr. prob.5|
||1940 El Centro earthquake, 1979 Imperial Valley earthquake||27%|
|Hunting Creek- Berryessa||35a
|Little Salmon (Onshore)||15
|Death Valley (N)||49d
|Death Valley (N. of Cucamongo)||49a
|San Gregorio Connected||60a
|Black Mtns Frontal (Death Valley)||142a
||1892 Laguna Salada earthquake||6%|
|Oak Ridge (Onshore)||94
|Santa Susana (Sierra Madre)||105a
|Death Valley (S)||143a
|Oak Ridge Connected||94
Notes for Table B.
1. List of faults from UCERF-2, Table 13. Unless otherwise noted other details are from Appendix A, Table 1.
2. Fault numbers and maps from USGS Quaternary Fault and Fold Database. Some faults lack a QFFDB entry.
5. Estimated probability of a M≥6.7 event in 30 years. From UCERF-2 Table 13.
- WGCEP is a collaboration of the U.S. Geological Survey, the California Geological Survey, and the Southern California Earthquake Center).
- See USGS QFFDB.
- UCERF 2008, p. 33.
- UCERF 2008, p. 33, and Table 12
- UCERF 2008, Table 13, p. 74.
- UCERF 2008, p. 34.
- UCERF 2008, Fig. 32, p.75.
- UCERF 2008, Fig. 35, p. 79.
- UCERF, pp. 12-13, and fig. 3.
- UCERF, p. 12.
- See Kagan, 1997, esp. §3.3.3.
- Dozer et al. 2009, pp. 1746–1759
- Yeats 2012, p. 92
- Hartzell & Heaton 1986, p. 649
- Oppenheimer et al. 2010
- California Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council
- Cascadia subduction zone
- Earthquake prediction
- Elastic-rebound theory
- San Andreas Fault
- Southern California faults
- Walker Lane
- Dozer, D. I.; Olsen, K. B.; Pollitz, F. F.; Stein, R. S.; Toda, S. (2009), "The 1911 M∼6.6 Calaveras Earthquake: Source Parameters and the Role of Static, Viscoelastic, and Dynamic Coulomb Stress Changes Imparted by the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake", Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (Seismological Society of America) 99 (3): 1746–1759, doi:10.1785/0120080305.
- Hartzell, S. H.; Heaton, T. H. (1986), "Rupture history of the 1984 Morgan Hill, California, earthquake from the inversion of strong ground records", Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (Seismological Society of America) 76 (3): 649.
- Kagan, Yan Y. (1997), "Earthquake prediction: a critical review.", Geophysical Journal International 131 (3): :505–525.
- Oppenheimer, D. H.; Bakun, W. H.; Parsons, T.; Simpson, R. W.; Boatwright, J. B.; Uhrhammer, R. A. (2010), "The 2007 M5.4 Alum Rock, California, earthquake: Implications for future earthquakes on the central and southern Calaveras Fault", Journal of Geophysical Research 115 (B8), doi:10.1029/2009jb006683.
- "Quaternary fault and fold database for the United States", U.S. Geological Survey.
- Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities (2008), "The Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, Version 2 (UCERF 2)", U.S. Geological Survey, Open-File Report 2007-1437. Also published as California Geological Survey Special Report 203.
- Forecasting California's Earthquakes—What Can We Expect in the Next 30 Years? Explains UCERF.
- Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities (WGCEP)
- U.S. Geological Survey
- California Geological Survey
- Southern California Earthquake Center
- Earthquake Frequently Asked Questions (USGS)
- Can you predict earthquakes (USGS FAQ)
- Can earthquakes be predicted? A good explanation.
- Fault Activity Map (CGS)
- Recent earthquakes in Calif. and Nevada (SCEC)
- Recent earthquakes in the U.S. (USGS)
- Fault Activity Map (CGS)
- National Seismic Hazard Maps and related resources (USGS)
- Earthquake Preparedness and Safety