Are earthquakes on the rise? Is California’s ‘Big One’ coming?


Story highlights

The 6.0-magnitude quake Sunday was not on the San Andreas Fault

Some predict the "Big One" will strike along the fault in the next few decades

USGS: Los Angeles and San Francisco will one day become next-door neighbors

CNN —  

The northern California Bay Area’s biggest earthquake in 25 years has people asking: Is the world seeing more tremors than usual? And is the long-dreaded “Big One” that could devastate California coming soon?

Actually, experts say the world might not be seeing more than usual. And as for the Big One, there’s no sign that it’s imminent.

The infamous San Andreas Fault is due for its epic every-150-years rumble. But the quake that struck Sunday, centered about 6 miles southwest of Napa, wasn’t on that line.

“I don’t think we can make any connection on that,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said. “This is on a different fault – still part of the same system, still the plates are still shifting from California, the North American Plate and the Pacific Plate.”

More quakes in 2014?

Be Prepared

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers a number of tips on what to do if you are in an earthquake, including preparations you can make before it hits:

  • • Have an emergency kit with food, water for 72+ hours.
    • Find safe spots in each room under a table or against an inside wall.
    • Hold regular drills.

    • If indoors, remember drop, cover and hold on.
    • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors, walls.
    • Stay inside until shaking stops.
    • If outdoors, stay there, away from buildings, streetlights and wires.


  • • Expect aftershocks.
  • • If trapped under debris, tap on a pipe or wall.
  • Peru, California, Chile and Iceland have all been hit by notable earthquakes in 2014, which has some wondering whether there have been an unusually large amount of strong earthquakes this year.

    The rate of major earthquakes – those with a magnitude higher than 7.0 – more than doubled in the first quarter of 2014 compared with the average since 1979, according to a paper published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in June by Tom Parsons and Eric L. Geist of the U.S. Geological Survey.

    But a time period of fewer than 50 years isn’t a large enough sample size to definitively say whether this year has had an abnormal number of quakes. It could be a statistical anomaly, according to CNN meteorologist Sean Morris.