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Earthquake Planning Scenarios

California Geological Survey (CGS) has been developing earthquake scenarios for planning purposes since 1980. Earthquake scenarios are example events chosen for emergency planning exercises. They are usually developed for specific faults that have the potential to produce significant earthquakes and are intended to depict the potential consequences of such earthquakes. They are not necessarily the largest or most damaging earthquakes possible, but are both large enough and likely enough to be included in emergency response plans.

An earthquake scenario is developed assuming that a particular fault ruptures over a certain length, producing a certain magnitude earthquake. The earthquake magnitude that a fault is capable of producing and its average recurrence interval are estimated based on fault dimensions, slip rate, and rupture style (strike-slip, normal, or reverse faulting). Once an earthquake scenario is developed, ground motions are predicted for a region surrounding the fault using ground motion prediction equations. Surface fault rupture and liquefaction and landslide potential may be evaluated for the scenario earthquake. Some scenarios include estimates of economic losses, damage to infrastructure, and social impact associated with the potential earthquake.


Earthquake Planning Scenarios published by the California Geological Survey:

  • CGS Special Report 233/USGS Open-File Report 2014-1045: Scenario Earthquake Hazards for the Long Valley Caldera-Mono Lake Area, East-Central California. Click here to download the pdf (12.5 MB). The Report is also available from the USGS website at http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2014/1045/.
  • The ShakeOut Scenario - Effects of a Potential M7.8 Earthquake on the San Andreas fault in Southern California, CGS Preliminary Report 25/USGS Open File Report 2008-1150 - This PDF is the full preliminary report for the 2008 ShakeOut Scenario. The PDF is around 21 megabytes.  Click here to download Preliminary Report 25.  The report, appendices and additional material are also available on the USGS web page at http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2008/1150/.
  • SP115 - 1995 - Planning Scenario in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, California for a Great Earthquake on the Cascadia Subduction Zone - Toppozada, T.R., & others.
    The proposed effects of a large subduction zone earthquake and the damage caused by shaking and a possible tsunami.
    Click here to download the report (45.8 MB).
  • SP112 - 1994 - Planning Scenario for a Major Earthquake on the Rodgers Creek Fault in the Northern San Francisco Bay Area - Toppozada, T.R., Borchardt, G., Hallstrom, C.L., & Youngs, L.G.
    The proposed effects of a magnitude 7 earthquake caused by the Rogers Creek Fault rupturing from San Pablo Bay to Santa Rosa.
    Click here to download the report (62.4 MB)
  • SP102 - 1993 - Planning Scenario for a Major Earthquake on the San Jacinto Fault in the San Bernardino Area - Toppozada, T.R., Borchardt, G., & Hallstrom, C.L.
    The proposed effects of a magnitude 7 earthquake along the San Jacinto Fracture Zone.
    Click here to download the report (58.6 MB)
  • SP100 - 1990 - Planning Scenario for a Major Earthquake in the San Diego-Tijuana Metropolitan Area - Reichle, M.S., & others
    The proposed effects of a large earthquake on the Rose Canyon and associated faults.
    Click here to download the report (45.3 MB)
  • SP099 - 1988 - Planning Scenario for a Major Earthquake on the Newport-Inglewood Fault Zone [Los Angeles and Orange Counties, California] - Toppozada, T.R., Bennett, J.H., Borchardt, G., Saul, R., and Davis, J.F. Click here to download the report (51.5 MB)
  • SP078 - 1987 - Earthquake Planning Scenario for a Magnitude 7.5 Earthquake on the Hayward Fault in the San Francisco Bay Area, California - Steinbrugge, K.V. & others
    The proposed effects of magnitude 7.5 earthquake along the most densely populated fault in the state.
    Click here to download the report (75.9 MB)
  • SP061 - 1982 - Earthquake Planning Scenario for a Magnitude 8.3 Earthquake on the San Andreas Fault in the San Francisco Bay Area, California - Davis, J.F., & others
    The proposed effects of a repeat of the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake on population of the San Francisco Bay Area.
    Click here to download the report  (4.7 MB)
  • SP060 - 1982 - Earthquake Planning Scenario for a Magnitude 8.3 Earthquake on the San Andreas Fault in Southern California - Davis, J.F., & others
    The proposed effects of a repeat of the Great 1857 Fort Tejon Earthquake on population of the Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange counties' populations. Click here to download the report (4 MB)