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Hazard Roundup--October 2008

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A blazing start to the southern California wildfire season! A number of powerful and destructive earthquakes around the world! The largest earthquake drill in US history just around the corner! 




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Welcome, and thanks for tuning into the U.S. Geological Survey's Hazards Roundup for October 2008. My name is Brian Campbell, your host.

A blazing start to the southern California wildfire season! A number of powerful and destructive earthquakes around the world! The largest earthquake drill in US history just around the corner! While October offered a reprieve from major hurricane and tropical storm events, these other events continued to keep USGS scientists busy and the general public aware of the raw power of Mother Nature.

October 1 is regarded as the start of the southern California wildfire season--and October is historically the worst month for wildfires in southern California. Consequently, when the first major blaze of the season struck north of Los Angeles on October 12, firefighters were at hand and ready to respond. The fire, which was largely concentrated in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, destroyed dozens of homes, threatened hundreds more, and forced thousands of people to evacuate. At least two people lost their lives in the blaze. Fueled by powerful Santa Ana winds, the fire nearly doubled in size overnight, from 5,000 to 10,000 acres. Governor Schwarzenegger issued a state of emergency warning for the fire-stricken areas and urged residents to evacuate. It was a grim reminder that wildfire season had arrived in southern California.

While the United States was spared from serious seismic activity this month, several countries around the world experienced large earthquakes, including over half a dozen that the U.S. Geological Survey determined to be of a magnitude greater than 6.0. One of the more devastating of these events was a 6.6-magnitude quake that struck the mountainous country of Kyrgyzstan, which borders China, on October 5.The quake completely leveled the remote village of Nura, killing over 70 people.

The destruction left in the wake of the Kyrgyzstan earthquake was eclipsed only by the 6.4-magnitude quake that rocked southwestern Pakistan on October 29. At least 160 people were killed and that number is expected to rise over the next few weeks as emergency responders reach the more remote villages that experienced the powerful quake.If you would like to learn more about this earthquake in particular, I encourage you to listen to Scott Horvath's CoreCast interview with Dr. Harley Benz, scientist-in-charge at the USGS National Earthquake Information Center. That interview can be accessed by going to the USGS CoreCast page at, episode 71.

While Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan may seem far away, the reality of a powerful earthquake striking southern California in the not-to-distant future is very much in the minds of USGS scientist Dr. Lucy Jones and many other scientists, emergency responders, and community activists in southern California, where several counties are preparing to participate in the largest earthquake preparedness drill in U.S. history on November 13, 2008.

Over 4.6 million people have registered to participate in the Great Southern California ShakeOut, and that number continues to grow every day. The Great Southern California ShakeOut represents an unprecedented effort between the scientific community, the emergency response community, and the general public of southern California to collaborate and prepare for the major earthquake that will undoubtedly strike at some point in the future.

At the heart of the Great Southern California ShakeOut is the ShakeOut Earthquake Scenario, a study conducted by USGS scientist Dr. Lucy Jones and a team of over three hundred other scientists and engineers that analyzes the likely consequences of a hypothetical 7.8-magnitude earthquake striking along the San Andreas Fault in southern California.  The staggering results of this study can be accessed through the ShakeOut homepage, where you can also find all of the relevant information about ShakeOut events and activities. Feel free to visit and Finally, a video interview with Dr. Jones, in which she elaborates on the ShakeOut and the Earthquake Scenario, is now available to view on the CoreCast web page. I highly encourage you to check it out.

Well, that about wraps up October! Hazards Round Up is a product of the U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior. I'm Brian Campbell. Thanks for tuning in.

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Music credit: Edgen, A Mastermind's Plan of Evil

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