Homeowners and owners of commercial properties often think that they have “plenty of time” to prepare their buildings for a big earthquake, but a recent study shows that time for preparing for the “Next Big One” may be running out.

A new study published on July 13, 2020 in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, states that the chance of a big San Andreas fault earthquake just tripled because of last year’s Ridgecrest, California earthquake, which measured 7.1 on the Richter Scale.  The San Andreas fault, which comes within 35 miles of downtown Los Angeles, is unfortunately the one fault that can unleash a “megaquake” in our lifetime.  This is because the San Andreas is the main tectonic plate boundary between the Pacific and North American plates and it is prone to hoarding seismic stress very quickly.

Why does the Ridgecrest earthquake now pose such danger?  Well, although the epicenters of the Ridgecrest quake were about 125 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles, these tremblors brought the “Garlock” fault much closer to a rupture.  By some estimates, the new odds are now that a large quake on the Garlock fault is 100 times more likely, and that therefore, the chance of a large quake on the San Andreas has essentially tripled!

On this point, a professor of geophysics at Stanford University and former scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey (U.S.G.S.) now says that if the Garlock fault ruptures, there’s a high likelihood – perhaps a 50/50 chance — that this would immediately cause a significant rupture in the San Andreas fault, which would in turn seriously impact the Greater Los Angeles area.

In light of this new evidence, homeowners and owners of commercial properties (e.g., “Soft Story” structures[1]) now have a special responsibility to mitigate such increased risks through retrofitting their buildings against destructive seismic forces.  In fact, a 2008 U.S.G.S. report offered the opinions that “retrofitting programs . . . have increased the seismic resistance of buildings” and that “much more retrofitting could still be done.”  Without earthquake retrofitting Los Angeles’ vulnerable buildings will most likely experience catastrophic structural failures that will potentially threaten life and property.

Where can I get some help?

The specialists at Weinstein Construction are experts at seismic retrofitting and can help with all your earthquake retrofitting Los Angeles work, from start to finish.  Since the devastating 1994 Northridge earthquake, we have successfully retrofitted over 7,000 buildings and helped countless property owners with their quake-proofing needs.   We are also experts at house leveling, French drainage installation, basement waterproofing, and foundation cracks repair. If you think that your home or commercial property may require Soft Story retrofitting Los Angeles work, call Weinstein Construction today at (800) 862-6582 to schedule a no obligation, free inspection and estimate.  Be prepared and have peace of mind when the next “Big One” hits!

Information adapted from The Los Angeles Times, Chance of big San Andreas earthquake increased by Ridgecrest temblors, study suggests, by Rong-Gong Lin II, July 13, 2020, and KCL9, Los Angeles report, Study Suggests Ridgecrest Quakes Increased Risk of Big San Andreas Tremblor, July 13, 2020.

[1] “Soft Story” buildings are those that consist of two or more stories and a wood frame construction, contain ground floor parking, or were built under buildings codes enacted prior to 1/1/78.