M4.0 & M3.8 Earthquakes in Berkeley, CA are a good reminder to prepare

On October 20, 2011 two small earthquakes struck Berkeley California, a M4.0 at 2:41pm and a M3.8 at 8:16 pm local time. Small earthquakes such as these serve as a reminder that earthquakes can happen at any time and that as an individual, community or state, we need to be prepared.

Interestingly, these earthquakes occurred on the same day as the Great California Shakeout, state-wide earthquake preparedness drill. 8.6 million people registered to participate in the 2011 drill, which aims to help people and organizations get better prepared for major earthquakes, and practice how to be protected when they happen. Visit the Shakeout website for more information and to view their resources on how to prepare for yourself, your family or your work place for an earthquake.

Another great preparedness resource is the documented called Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country created by SCEC, USGS, CEA and the Earthquake Country Alliance. The San Francisco Bay region handbook provides information about the threat posed by earthquakes and explains how you can prepare for, survive, and recover from these inevitable events. It describes why you should be concerned with earthquakes, what you can expect during and after a quake, and what you need to do beforehand to be safe and reduce damage. This document is available for several regions of the US that have high seismic hazard, and is also available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean.

The University of California, Berkeley, the location of PEER’s headquarters, has made some tremendous strides in its earthquake preparedness through the SAFER (Seismic Action plan for Facilities Enhancement and Renewal) program. Since 1997, UC Berkeley has completed or initiated approximately $500 million worth of seismic and related improvements in buildings across campus as a part of this program. Buildings retrofitted include Hearst Memorial Mining, Wurster, Barrows, Barker, Latimer, Hildebrand and LeConte halls, as well as Haas Pavilion, Doe Library, Silver Space Sciences Laboratory, the Archaeological Research Facility, and Berkeley Art Museum. All occupied buildings on the central campus with a “very poor” seismic rating have been retrofitted. As of early 2009, work had been completed or initiated on 72 percent of the square footage identified in 1997 as needing seismic improvement. Work that will further improve the seismic safety of the UC Berkeley campus is in progress and the SAFER program continues to provide a framework that guides campus planning and investment.

For more information about the earthquakes, visit the USGS Earthquake page: