California Earthquake Early Warning System Benefit Study, PEER Report 2016-06


The magnitude 6.0 South Napa Earthquake of August 24, 2014, took the lives of two people, injured 300 others, and caused moderate to severe damage to more than 2,000 structures. It is one of the first damaging earthquakes to strike a major metropolitan area in the State of California in over two decades. During that time period, California’s population has grown by over 25%, the state’s economy has tripled, and a great many of the state’s new residents and businesses have never experienced a major earthquake. It is almost guaranteed that there will be a major damaging earthquake somewhere in the state within the next 30 years, and thus the South Napa earthquake is our “wake-up call” to renew investment and action to enhance the seismic resilience of communities, businesses, and residents across the state.

On October 8, 2014, the Alfred E. Alquist Seismic Safety Commission (Commission) held a hearing in American Canyon, California, to better understand impacts and lessons learned from local, State and federal representatives, and residents and businesses impacted by the South Napa earthquake. The Commission subsequently engaged the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER), headquartered at the University of California, Berkeley, to synthesize and analyze observations and studies resulting over the first year following the earthquake. As part of its work, PEER was asked to review relevant and transferable lessons from other recent earthquakes and, in addition, to consider how scientific, engineering, and technological advances of the last few decades have affected emergency response and recovery following the 2014 earthquake. PEER presented a set of 20 findings of the study to the Commission at its meeting on January 14, 2016, and then worked with the Commission’s staff to incorporate feedback into a revised draft that included 41 recommendations for consideration at the Commission’s workshop on March 9, 2016. At that time, the Commission identified the 12 priority recommendations. Both the 20 findings and 12 priority recommendations are organized around the areas of Geosciences, Infrastructure, Buildings, People and Businesses, and Government and Institutions.

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Laurie A. Johnson
Sharyl Rabinovici
Grace S. Kang
Stephen A. Mahin
Publication date: 
July 29, 2016
Publication type: 
Technical Report
Johnson, L. A., Rabinovici, S., Kang, G. S., & Mahin, S. A. (2016). California Earthquake Early Warning System Benefit Study, PEER Report 2016-06. Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, University of California, Berkeley, CA.