What is the probability that an earthquake will occur in the Los Angeles Area? In the San Francisco Bay area?  

Los Angeles area:

Within the next 30 years the probability is:

  • 60% that an earthquake measuring magnitude 6.7
  • 46% that an earthquake measuring magnitude 7
  • 31% that an earthquake measuring magnitude 7.5

will occur in the Los Angeles region.

San Francisco Bay area:

Within the next 30 years the probability is:

  • 72% that an earthquake measuring magnitude 6.7
  • 51% that an earthquake measuring magnitude 7
  • 20% that an earthquake measuring magnitude 7.5

will occur in the San Francisco region.

Learn More:

Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast 3

Related Content

Filter Total Items: 13

How do I get earthquake hazard maps for locations outside of the U.S.?

We know of no current "zone" designations for sites outside of the United States. For locations outside the United States for which seismic design is required for military facilities, there exists a standard based on probabilistic spectral ordinates in the manner of the International Building Code and are declared to reflect the 2015 version of...

How are engineers working to make roads and buildings safer?

Earthquake engineers are working to make roads and buildings safer in the event of a major earthquakes. This includes both improving the design of new buildings and bridges as well as strengthening older units to incorporate the latest advances in seismic and structural engineering. The Federal Emergency Management Agency plays a central role in...

What is the USGS doing to mitigate and respond to earthquake hazards?

The U.S. Geological Survey performs the following functions related to earthquake hazard mitigation: Receives, analyzes, maintains, and distributes data on earthquake activity worldwide. Satellites link our National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado to a network of seismograph stations. These stations, located throughout the world...

Can the National Seismic Hazard Maps be used as an earthquake forecast tool for the near future?

Not really. This web site is designed to display the probability of different sources that might occur in a several-year to several-decade period. The model bases all probability estimates on mean rate of earthquakes over long periods. As you shorten the time window, you should expect greater and greater fluctuations in what may be observed from...

What is the probability that an earthquake is a foreshock to a larger earthquake?

Worldwide the probability that an earthquake will be followed within 3 days by a large earthquake nearby is somewhere just over 6%. In California, that probability is about 6%. This means that there is about a 94% chance that any earthquake will NOT be a foreshock. In California, about half of the biggest earthquakes were preceded by foreshocks;...

Are earthquake probabilities or forecasts the same as prediction?

No. Probabilities and forecasts are rather like climate probabilities and weather forecasts, while predictions are more like statements of when, where, and how large, which is not yet possible for earthquakes. Probabilities describe the long-term chances that an earthquake of a certain magnitude will happen during a time window. Most earthquake...

How do I decide whether or not to get earthquake insurance?

You should consider the following factors when deciding whether or not to get earthquake insurance: proximity to active earthquake faults seismic history of the region (frequency of earthquakes) time since last earthquake building construction (type of building and foundation) architectural layout materials used quality of workmanship extent to...

How do earthquakes affect buildings?

Ground shaking is the primary cause of earthquake damage to man-made structures. Many factors influence the strength of earthquake shaking at a site including the earthquake's magnitude, the site's proximity to the fault, the local geology, and the soil type . More than 250 structures throughout the United States have been outfitted with seismic...

What is the likelihood of a large earthquake at location X?  Is it safe to go to X since they've been having a lot of earthquakes lately?

The National Seismic Hazards Mapping project provides an online web tool for determining the probability of a large earthquake within 50 kilometers (~31 miles) of a specific location over a certain time period. The calculation is based on the latest available information from seismic hazard data. Unified Hazard Tool - Earthquake Hazard and...

How will my house hold up in an earthquake? Can the USGS send someone out to evaluate my property?

Published maps will only provide generalized, uninterpreted information about specific areas. Every property consists of a unique combination of geologic and structural factors that must be considered to determine what might happen to a house during an earthquake. Therefore, an individual site study is necessary. Geologic factors include: type of...

What are the earthquake hazards/risks where I live?

Determining your risk with regard to earthquakes, or more precisely shaking from earthquakes, isn't as simple as finding the nearest fault. The chances of experiencing shaking from an earthquake and/or having property damage is dependent on many different factors. The National Hazard Maps use all available data to estimate the chances of shaking (...

What is seismic hazard? What is a seismic hazard map? How are they made? How are they used? Why are there different maps, and which one should I use?

Seismic hazard is the hazard associated with potential earthquakes in a particular area, and a seismic hazard map shows the relative hazards in different areas. The maps are made by considering what we currently know about: Past faults and earthquakes The behavior of seismic waves as they travel through different parts of the U.S. crust The near-...
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Date published: April 18, 2018

USGS Rolls Out Groundbreaking Earthquake Study: The HayWired Earthquake Scenario

USGS collaborates with key academic, state, local, and industry partners to provide a new look at what could happen during a major earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Date published: November 15, 2016

Assessing Critical Infrastructure Damage After Earthquakes

Early on the morning of August 24, 2014, Loren Turner was awoken by clattering window blinds, a moving bed, and the sound of water splashing out of his backyard pool. He experienced what is now named the “South Napa Earthquake.” 

Date published: June 26, 2014

New Audiences, New Products for the National Seismic Hazard Maps

New Audiences, New Products for the National Seismic Hazard Maps

Date published: April 8, 2011

California Can Learn From Recent Large Earthquakes

A new report issued by the American Red Cross and the U.S. Geological Survey documents the Chilean response and recovery efforts following the Feb. 2010 magnitude 8.8 earthquake and the lessons that California should learn from this disaster.   

Date published: October 17, 2009

Advances in Science, Technology, have Bay Area better prepared for the next big earthquake

Twenty years after the Loma Prieta earthquake caused loss of life and widespread property damage, advances in science, technology and engineering have the San Francisco Bay Area better prepared for the next big earthquake. When the Loma Prieta quake hit just after 5 p.m. October 17, 1989 – 20 years ago Saturday – the digital age was in its infancy.

Date published: October 8, 2009

Bay Area better prepared since Loma Prieta earthquake

On October 17, minutes before the scheduled start of the third game of the 1989 World Series in San Francisco, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake rocked the California coast from Monterey to San Francisco. Centered near Loma Prieta peak in the mountains south of San Jose, the quake killed 63 people and caused an estimated $6 billion to $10 billion in property loss.

Date published: November 6, 2008

What Would a Great Earthquake do to the Buildings in Downtown Los Angeles?

A great earthquake along the southern San Andreas Fault could cause many tall buildings to collapse in Los Angeles, explains USGS earthquake expert Dr. Ken Hudnut in a new video interview.

Date published: December 8, 2003

Capturing the 'Big One': Computer Modeling of Interacting Faults Near Los Angeles

The San Andreas and neighboring faults near Los Angeles interact in surprising, and, in some cases, potentially dangerous ways, according to an article by U.S. Geological Survey scientists to be published in the Dec. 12, 2003, issue of the journal Science. The researchers reviewed lessons from past earthquakes and combined that with powerful computer modeling to reach their conclusions.

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September 27, 2018

PubTalk 9/2018 - Hayward Earthquake

Title: The 150th Anniversary of the Damaging 1868 Hayward Earthquake: Why It Matters and How We Can Prepare for Its Repeat

  • The Hayward Fault in the heart of the Bay Area is one of the most urbanized faults in the US.
  • Studies of the fault reveal that it has produced 12 large earthquakes in the past 2000 years spaced 100-220 years apart.
  • There
January 25, 2018

PubTalk 1/2018 — ShakeAlert: Path to West Coast EQ Early Warning

Title: ShakeAlert: The Path to West Coast Earthquake Early Warning ... how a few seconds can save lives and property

  • The ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system will begin limited operations this year.
  • Alerts could save lives and properties but several challenges remain.
  • With millions at risk, why isn't full public alerting happening yet?
May 25, 2017

PubTalk 5/2017 — Underwater secrets of the Hayward fault zone

Title: Underwater Secrets of the Hayward Fault Zone: Integrated 3D imaging to understand earthquake hazards 

  • Underwater imaging provides a unique opportunity to study urban fault hazards.
  • How do we link surface structures to depths where earthquakes occur?
  • How does "acoustic trenching" help us understand earthquake history?
3D perspective view of the likelihood that each region of California will experience a magnitude 6.7 within 30 years
April 20, 2016

3D likelihood California earthquake in the next 30 years

Three-dimensional perspective view of the likelihood that each region of California will experience a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake in the next 30 years (6.7 matches the magnitude of the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and 30 years is the typical duration of a homeowner mortgage).

February 25, 2016

The Gold Rush and the 1906 Earthquake

The Gold Rush and the 1906 Earthquake: How they combined to create the breakthrough discovery of modern seismic science

  • Accidents of Gold Rush merchant marine navigation transformed a seismic disaster into a seminal discovery and led to San Francisco's extreme liquefaction vulnerability today.
  • Just about everything that we love about the Bay area is
May 21, 2015

PubTalk 5/2015 — Breaking Badly:Forecasting California Earthquakes

by Morgan Page, USGS Research Geophysicist

  • Scientists cannot currently predict the precise time, location, and size of future damaging earthquakes.
  • Historical records of earthquakes in California date back over 150 years.
  • Geologists have dug trenches to extend the known history on some faults back to around 1,000 years before
ShakeOut program logo (top) and Map of ShakeOut Scenario extent (bottom)
December 31, 2008

ShakeOut program logo and Map of ShakeOut Scenario extent

ShakeOut program logo (top) and Map of ShakeOut Scenario extent (bottom).

A map of ShakeOut scenario shaking in southern California
December 31, 2008

A map of ShakeOut scenario shaking in southern California

A map of ShakeOut scenario shaking in southern California.

Image shows an aerial view of the San Andreas Fault
November 30, 2000

San-Andreas Fault

Aerial photo of the San Andreas Fault in the Carrizo Plain. By Ikluft - Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3106006

 location of and evidence for recent movement on active fault traces within the Hayward Fault Zone, California

Traces of the Hayward Fault, California

The purpose of this map is to show the location of and evidence for recent movement on active fault traces within the Hayward Fault Zone, California.  The mapped traces represent the integration of the following three different types of data: (1) geomorphic expression, (2) creep (aseismic fault slip),and (3) trench exposures. 

Attribution: Natural Hazards
ShakeOut Scenario animated gif

ShakeOut Scenario

A simulation of the ShakeOut Scenario as described at shakeout.org/scenario. ShakeOut is an annual earthquake drill, always on the third Thursday of October. Learn more: shakeout.org