Dopers in LA: are you worried that the Big One is coming?

4.4 Earthquake near LA could be foreshock for bigger shake.

Me, I’d be taking a vacation somewhere on the East Coast right about now. Does anybody worry about this stuff out there?

Well, yes and no. I live in Seattle. We have a much bigger chance of a “Big One.” The faults we’re on have only been recognized over the last few years, but there have been 8+ 'quakes here in the past.

You can look at the USGS eathequake maps, to see where the latest ones are.

So, to answer your question, we are prepared, by having supplies stored in a shed outside the house with food, water clothes/blankets, fire starting stuff, a radio, and probably a bunch of other stuff we’ll never use.
But, you can’t worry about it. Do people on the east coast worry about a hurricane that hasn’t happened? Do mid-westerners worry about tornadoswhen the sun’s out.
Probably not.

If you live your life in fear of what might happen, you should move to… well, there isn’t a place that’s guaranteed to never have a natural disaster.

I’m in San Diego, so a giant earthquake is a concern. I’m more concerned about drought and fire at the moment though.

“Earthquakes and sharks to start us off
If Chupacabras ain’t enough
Black widow spiders and killer bees
There ain’t no shade, there ain’t no trees
Hot desert heat and polluted air
And traffic jams beyond compare
That’s all I got to warn ya bout Mexico and California.” ♫

I live in San Francisco, and I wish we had more of these small-medium type quakes. They act as safety valves, allowing a little movement of the plates at a time instead of building up to a big one.

In any case, no, I’m not worried* per sé*. We have made some preparations, and our house is on a hill made of rock so it probably won’t go anywhere unless the quake is big enough to kill us all right off.

The Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 was, I think, 7.1 or so, and it caused a lot of damage, but when I got home to my apartment where I was living at the time, nothing was out of place. Again, I was living on a hill made of rock (Telegraph Hill).

No worries at all. I like earthquakes, they break up the day. Its fun watching coworkers scramble around in terror. I honestly hope for a big earthquake just because its an interesting topic of conversation

I fear the potential of a Sharknado!

Yesterday’s quake was my first since being in LA and I didn’t enjoy it. It startled me out of sleep and a bottle of shampoo fell in the shower, so there was a loud bang.

But I feel the same about earthquakes today as I did yesterday: I’d rather not experience them but I’m not spending my time worrying about it.

I live in less fear of an earthquake than I did of tornados when I lived in the Midwest.

Not in any meaningful way. The energy in a big quake is orders of magnitude more than these smaller ones. They’d have to be near constant to be an effective safety valve.

Jesus, really? Do you also hope for a tsunami or another genocide?

Regarding the o.p.: a large (M[SUB]L[/SUB]>7) quake would certainly be destructive, but there are so many other disasters that can occur in other parts of the United States and around the world that Los Angeles is hardly a place of elevated concern. The entire Cascade Range could at any time blow up in volcanic eruptions taking out Seattle and/or Portland. A tsunami could easily take out coastal cities (while less common on the Atlantic Seaboard the amount of built up areas that could be affected are huge). Large swaths of the Ozarks and South down to Florida overlay karst structures which could cause massive, town consuming sinkholes. The largest seismic fault in the continental US runs right through the middle of the country and pretty much right next to St. Louis. Hurricanes can and do destroy large coastal regions with regularity, and climate change may exacerbate the incidence and ferocity of such storms. A supervolanic eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera could potentially make much of the American Midwest into an apocalyptic uninhabitable dessert of ash. And of course we are overdue for a large meteorite impact which could impact anywhere with enough delivered energy to dwarf all nuclear arsenals in the world combined and bring human civilization back to Stone Age levels. Tornadoes, firestorms, and ice storms routinely plague various regions of the country. And then there are all of the potential mad-made disasters, such as nuclear holocaust, engineered bioweapons, progressive pollution and contamination, depletion of fresh groundwater sources necessary for agriculture and industry, et cetera. And we have it much better than New Zealand, which is like a fantasy death zone of natural disasters.

I don’t lose much sleep over the San Andreas fault. My biggest concern is that it could create a release and meltdown at Diablo Canyon on the same scale as Fukushima Daiichi, which while costly and hazardous is at least containable. Los Angeles will just use such an incident as an excuse to tear down existing buildings and replace them with new Frank Gehry-designed eyesores, which they will do anyway, because if there is one enduring disaster in Los Angeles, it is the lack of taste or sense of architectural history.


No, I don’t think the damage is comparable. I also think your genocide example is way out of line.

You state your pleasure at watching coworkers in fear and gleefullylook forward to a disaster which could kill tens of thousands and displace millions more in the Great Los Angeles area, and I’m out of line? Right.


Kind of. But I worried more about tsunamis when I lived in Hawaii than I do about earthquakes now that I’m in LA. Any motherfucking plate in the entire Pacific Ocean moved, and we were on guard. Here, I just need to worry about local ones.

Yes, because a little shaking is nothing. I’ve been through 7.0+ quakes, its a little scary, but unless you’re under a bridge there’s really nothing to be scared of, certainly not for an adult who’s lived most of their lives here. And tens of thousands is an exaggeration. Even at worst, it would be less than a thousand. You are still way out of line for not only suggesting a man-made evil is comparable to a natural disaster, but miss the scale of such a tragedy by several thousand percent.

A massive “Big One” earthquake that disrupts electrical and trnasportation infrastructure could easily result in thousands or tens of thousands of deaths via fire, illness, trauma, and other secondary effects, and various FEMA, JASON, and other studies. Being jubulent at the prospect or fear of coworkers is pretty disturbed.


Feh, that’s amateur stuff.

What I’m really hoping for is a gamma-ray burst from a nearby star.

That’s right, destroy my illusions, make me a quivering mass of earthquake-fearing jello. Just try.

Earthquakes have often caused hundreds of thousands of deaths in the past. We’re better prepared in California than many parts of the world, but we’re not that much better prepared. A really big one located in an urban center would be devastating.

The Loma Prieta earthquake killed 67 people. The Northridge earthquake killed 57. Whether or not Stranger is exaggerating doesn’t change the fact that you are hoping for an event that will kill dozens of people because it will make “interesting conversation”.