Geologist: California Prepared for Quakes, but Timing Is Hard

Tuesday, 26 Aug 2014 05:12 PM

By Courtney Coren

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The damage caused by the earthquake in the San Francisco Bay area could have been significantly worse if California were not so well prepared for earthquakes, says Penn State geoscience professor Kevin Furlong.

"The reality is that California is pretty well prepared for earthquakes compared to most other places around the world," Furlong told Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV's "MidPoint" on Tuesday.

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"They've done a lot of work, which kept the damage way lower than it would've been if it just hit an unprepared location," he explained.

The damage has been assessed at about $1 billion, plus about $4 billion in economic losses.

The Penn State professor said geologists are really good at assessing stress points and how much the plates are moving, but it's still hard to determine when a fault might snap.

"We know how the plates are moving very precisely, and we also know because of that how the stress is building up pretty well," Furlong explained.

"The problem . . . is being able to determine exactly when it's going to snap, and that's because each bit of fault is mechanically a little different," he said.

"Some things break a little easier, some break a little harder, and so, being able to say exactly when is really our problem," he added.

He says geologists are able to "identify the danger zones, the locations where we expect there to be an earthquake, but unfortunately we can only do it for – in the next 20 years or 40 years, not in the next week or month."

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