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Earthquakes awareness in Northern California

By Carlo Falco
Published On: Apr 02 2014 09:18:53 PM CDT
REDDING, Calif. -

There are a lot of earthquakes in the recent news.  A 7.0 magnitude quake struck in just off of Eureka in early March, a 5.1 in Los Angeles and Tuesday an 8.0 off the coast of Chile. 

So how much danger do earthquakes pose to the Sacramento Valley?

One part of the answer you might expect: not as much danger as areas like San Francisco.  The other part you might not expect: faults around Redding harbor energy for pretty substantial earthquakes.

“There is a likelihood of up to about a 6.5 [magnitude earthquake] based on the faults here,” said geotechnical engineer Mark Twede.

There are several faults near the city of Redding that have acted up before.  Most of the quakes are very minor but a few – like in 1998 when a 5.4 magnitude quake interrupted during Thanksgiving dinner – are strong enough to disrupt life.

The strongest fault is the Battle Creek Fault.  That fault goes through southern Cottonwood and travels eastward towards Manton and harbors enough energy for a 6.5.  By comparison the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that disrupted the World Series was a 6.9.

Other faults, like the Corning Fault, extend south down I-5 through Red Bluff, Corning and Orland and the Chico Monocline Fault which travels along the foothills on the eastern fringe of the valley.

And although most of the faults in the Northstate aren’t active, Twede recommends taking steps to protect your family just in case.

He recommends finding a family meeting place in case of a quake and making sure your home is up to the most recent building standards.

AAA recommends creating an earthquake survival kit with water, batteries, toiletries and non perishable food.  AAA also recommends checking to make sure your home insurance covers earthquakes.

Most earthquakes that occur in Northern California don’t happen in the valley.  Most of them are in the mountains to our north and east near our two beloved volcanoes Mount Shasta and Lassen Peak.

Others happen in and around Eureka and California’s North Coast.  There the Cascadian Subduction Zone makes a little shake rattle and roll almost commonplace.