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USGS seismologist to release new quake estimates

17 April 2003


Contact: Robert Sanders
(510) 643-6998 rls@pa.urel.berkeley.edu

Release at the University of California, Berkeley, of details of a new report that updates probabilities for earthquakes on Bay Area faults and revises estimates of loss of property and lives from likely earthquakes. The lead author of the U.S. Geological Survey report will discuss "New Earthquake Probabilities for the San Francisco Bay Area: What You Should Know!" at the first annual 1906 Commemorative Lecture sponsored by the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory.

The annual lecture, which commemorates the great San Francisco earthquake of April 18, 1906, is free and open to the public.

10 a.m. Tuesday, April 22

Sibley Auditorium, Bechtel Engineering Center, UC Berkeley

The report's lead author, seismologist David Schwartz of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Menlo Park

The USGS last released figures on the chance of a major quake in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1999. Since then, new data and methods have necessitated a revision, lowering a bit the probability of a quake on the region's faults, but reinforcing the danger overall.

Results of the new analysis are being announced April 22 by Schwartz at UC Berkeley and by Schwartz's USGS colleagues at a conference, "Disaster Resistant California 2003," in San Jose.

Schwartz is chief of the USGS's San Francisco Bay Area Earthquake Hazards Program and leader of the Earthquake Probabilities Working Group, a wide cross-section of the earth science community that four years ago published 30-year earthquake probabilities for the Bay Area. The 1999 report concluded that there is a 70 percent chance of a major quake - magnitude 6.7 or greater - on one or more of the area's main faults between 2000 and 2030. Those forecasts have been updated with the most recent information from geological and geophysical research. Schwartz will discuss the new earthquake probability study, comparative risks and the implications for living and working in the area.

The lecture series, part of a campus-wide effort to observe the centennial of the quake, will be held each April - Earthquake Awareness Month in California - and focus on issues of earthquakes and society.