clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

JPL is 99.9 Percent Sure Los Angeles Will Get a Big Earthquake in the Next Two and a Half Years

Updated 6:20 pm: Check your earthquake kits, you might need them soon. A *geophysicist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory has all but guaranteed Los Angeles County will experience an earthquake measuring 5.0 or greater within the next two and a half years. Andrea Donnellan has authored a soon-to-be-released study that puts the probability of a significant earthquake in the LA area before the year 2019 at 99.9 percent, according to the LA Daily News.

The JPL scientists base their predictions on the March 28, 2014 La Habra earthquake, a 5.1 that was centered between the Whittier and Puente Hills Faults, and which caused "a surprising amount of damage," according to the report. The upcoming 'quake will occur within 60 miles of those fault lines that caused the magnitude 5.1 earthquake back on March 28, 2014, and "could occur on any or several of these faults, which may or may not have been identified by geologic surface mapping." That same area has a 35 percent chance of a magnitude 6.1 or greater earthquake in the same two and a half year timeline. The Whittier Fault runs between Chino Hills and Whittier; the Puente Hills Fault runs just south of Griffith Park in Los Angeles to Whittier.

Update: A rep for NASA JPL clarifies that the paper was published online on September 30 and updated this afternoon. They add that JPL officials did not request a meeting with assemblymembers; Assemblymember Holden requested a briefing, which is scheduled for next week.

As recently as January 2015, an astounding 24.9 percent of Angelenos claimed to be completely unprepared for an earthquake. City hall has taken some big strides towards earthquake readiness in just the last month, but with the short timeframe JPL is predicting, it probably won't do much good. Now in the works are an improved network of cell towers able to withstand tremors and mandated seismic retrofits signed into law earlier this month. Mayor Eric Garcetti threw out a rough two-year timeline to get the new cell towers in place, so that could be ready if the Whittier and Puente Hills Faults hold out for a bit, but the funding for retrofits hasn't even been ironed out yet, and owners of susceptible buildings will have a grace period of seven to 25 years to upgrade their structures.
· Big earthquake a '99.9 percent' certainty on Los Angeles fault, JPL scientist's study says [LA Daily News]
· Potential for a large earthquake near Los Angeles inferred from the 2014 La Habra earthquake [UNR]
· Who in Los Angeles is Most Prepared For a Major Earthquake? [Curbed LA]
· Los Angeles Requiring Earthquake Retrofitting For 15,000 of Its Scariest Apartment Buildings [Curbed LA]

Curbed Video: Tips For Tiny Living