Issue 6 Magazine News

Shaking California

By Yasmeen Anwar

On January 14, 2021, Concord and the surrounding cities were struck by an earthquake with a magnitude of 3.8, though it only lasted a few seconds. Eight days later, another earthquake occurred. This time, the magnitude of the earthquake was only 3.0, but one earthquake after another sparked feelings of anxiety across many Walnut Creek residents.

Mylee Lazarev, a freshman, said, “[After the first earthquake] I mostly brushed it off like other people in the class that I was in. [They] kind of laughed it off – it was a regular thing… [The second one] made me think a little bit more about [earthquakes], because it wasn’t a class…” They also mentioned that they’ve heard of “the big one” – an earthquake of a massive magnitude that will occur due to the stress of the San Andreas fault needing to be released. 

This fear isn’t completely unfounded – the last significant earthquake on the fault was in 1857, with a magnitude of 7.9. The fault has been getting more and more stressed for nearly a century and a half. Many scientists have concluded that it’s most likely that there will be one massive earthquake to release all of that stress. However, there is the possibility that California residents will experience many smaller, less intense earthquakes. It will take much longer than “the big one” would, but would result in less damage being done and fewer (if any) people being hurt.

However, earthquakes are completely unpredictable. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), “Neither the USGS nor any other scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake. We do not know how, and we do not expect to know how anytime in the foreseeable future.” Additionally, foreshocks (smaller, less intense earthquakes that often happen before a larger one) don’t always occur.

The only thing that people can do is prepare in advance. According to America’s PrepareAthon, people should secure anything that could fall and injure somebody, practice the drop, cover, and hold on actions, store anything important (i.e. documents, supplies, etc.) and plan out how you will communicate with those you live with. 

During an earthquake, you should drop to the ground and hide under a table of some kind, cover your head and neck with one of your hands, and hold onto something stable. 

Many sources agree that the best way to stay safe is to prepare in advance and to educate yourself. That way, everyone can stay as safe as possible.