California: What We Can Learn From The Turkey Earthquake

Posted February 22, 2023, under Blog

The catastrophic earthquake that rocked Turkey earlier this month should serve as a wakeup call for all California residents and California policy makers.

Like Turkey, California is an extremely seismically active region, with similar capabilities of producing mega-earthquakes. Which is why we wanted to share a few takeaways for Californians from Turkey’s devastating temblor:

  1. California can produce earthquakes of the same size and capable of the same destruction. Every time there is an earthquake in California, seismologists are happy to remind us that California is an extremely seismically active region, and its most volatile fault – the San Andreas – is way past due for producing a massive earthquake. “There will be 7.8s in our future. Absolutely. We have the faults, we’ve seen it in the past, it will happen again,” seismologist Lucy Jones, a research associate at Caltech, told the L.A. Times about our earthquake vulnerabilities. And like Turkey, it’s possible California could experience back-to-back massive quakes triggered by different fault lines. For example, a 7.5 earthquake could rupture on the San Andreas fault near the Mexican border, and trigger a quake of a similar size up north near San Francisco.


  1. Similar to Turkey, an earthquake in the 7s would be just as deadly and devastating for California. It’s estimated that if 7.8 magnitude earthquake ruptured near Southern California, it could result in 1,800 deaths from the shaking, 900 deaths from fires, 600 damaged or collapsed buildings, and 50,000 injuries.


  1. As Turkey’s lax building standards contributed to the deadly destruction, California has many similar buildings in danger of collapse and lacking earthquake retrofits. Concrete buildings that became a popular form of construction after World War II line many of Los Angeles’s famous boulevards, and remain at risk of collapse if a large earthquake occurred near them. Officials have known that these “non-ductile concrete” buildings are more vulnerable to seismic activity, and have yet to evaluate or mandate retrofits for them. In the USGS’s earthquake simulation of a 7.8 earthquake, 50 of our non-ductile concrete buildings fully or partially collapsed, which house as many as 7,500 people in them. While certain cities in Los Angeles County, like Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood, have ordered retrofits for these buildings, the deadline for completion is scheduled for 2040.


  1. Those aren’t the only buildings at risk in California of collapse during a large earthquake – soft story structures and unreinforced brick buildings are likewise lacking modern earthquake retrofits. As we saw during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, 200 or so “soft story” buildings collapsed under the shaking. One apartment building that was destroyed resulted in the deaths of 16 people. Many California cities have been working to get all these buildings retrofitted and hit a milestone in 2022 – completing retrofits on 8,000 seismically vulnerable soft story structures. While many cities have required the retrofits of unreinforced brick buildings, the Los Angeles Times found that some 640 unreinforced masonry structures remain at-risk and in-use in parts of the Inland Empire despite warnings and mandates.


  1. If a massive earthquake struck California, it could isolate residents and compromise major utilities. Because of California’s mountain terrain, residents could be isolated after a large earthquake – especially if one occurred along the San Andreas – because freeways connecting California to neighboring states Nevada and Arizona could be severely damaged or destroyed. In addition to issues with transportation, major utilities like gas, power, and cellphone service would be limited or nonexistent.


Thus, if you live in California, it’s important to stay vigilant about earthquake safety and preparedness. Always have an emergency kit handy at your home and place of work, and make sure your property has been inspected for any necessary earthquake retrofits or seismic upgrades.

If you think your home may be in need of earthquake retrofitting, foundation repair, or foundation replacement, contact Julian Construction today and we will send one of our foundation specialists out to conduct a free, thorough inspection with a quote for repair.

We have extensive experience serving our Los Angeles community and nearby regions. In fact, Julian Construction has inspected over 30,000 structures in the area! Give us a call at (323) 733-3377 to schedule your free inspection or complete the inspection request form.


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