San Francisco’s Hayward Fault gets an earthquake every 140 years … And it’s been 150 since the last one


San Francisco is way overdue for a major earthquake. FEMA and geologists alike are expecting it any day now – and even exercise every year during the Big ShakeOut. That may sound like a vain promise but the science checks out. San Francisco – as well as pretty much every major tech company’s headquarters you can think of besides Microsoft – should be in ruins right about now. The United States Geological Survey says that the chances of a quake of at least 6.7 on the Richter scale hitting San Francisco in the next 30 years sits at a cozy 99 percent. There is nothing we can do about it. And it all comes down to something called the Hayward Fault.

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The San Francisco Bay Area is riddled with faults. One of the most dangerous is the Hayward Fault, which connects to the Rodgers Creek Fault to the north and seems to connect to the Calaveras Fault in the south.

Going back to the first Hayward earthquake recorded in 1315, it’s been found that the average time between big rumbles is 140 years. Since the last strong Hayward shakeup was in 1868, we’re nearly 10 years overdue for the next Big One. Every year that passes means more energy to be released, thus increasing the chance and power of the next gigantic earthquake.

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Damage at the Marina district of San Francisco after the Loma Prieta earthquake in

Thousands of buildings destroyed, rampant looters, no water, thousands dead are all but a few things that are predicted in the case of such an earthquake. The most conservative reports estimate the damages at $165 billion.

Currently, an Oakland-wrecking quake in the next 30 years is at 14.4%, but that’s up from 13.2% only seven years before. And it will keep going up.

It’s like having no one winning the lotto for a bigger jackpot the next day – only instead of seeing the cash increase on a distracting billboard, you see the casualty increase on a depressing spreadsheet. 

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The Hayward fault is passing through numbers of large cities on the West Coast. via USGS

So, for those of you visiting San Francisco in the near future, be sure to visit the Golden Gate bridge, because it soon may sway like crazy before crumbling in the Bay.

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