Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

A 6.0 magnitude earthquake is imminent, according to Earthquake Potential Score

by Take Two Staff | Take Two®

75692 full
The East Field at California State University Northridge replaced Parking Structure C, which was severely damaged in the Northridge Earthquake 20 years ago on Jan. 17, 1994. Maya Sugarman/KPCC and Mark J. Terrill/AP

After hurricanes pummeled the southeast and temblors toppled buildings south of the border, the possibility of a mega-quake striking here in SoCal is on people's minds. As if all the disasters of the past month weren't enough. Now there's something else to make us uneasy.

It's called the EPS, or Earthquake Potential Score—a measure that determines the likelihood of a disastrous quake. And the EPS for the LA region right now is 80.3 percent. It was 77.8 percent just before the 1994 quake in Northridge.

John Rundle is a professor of geology and physics at UC Davis. He's part of a team compiling EPS data. He explained to Take Two host A Martinez how he got that number.

"There are 1,000 magnitude three's for every magnitude six. So at the last magnitude six, we start counting magnitude threes and when we get to 1,000, you'd expect another magnitude six...

So, the EPS score comes basically from counting those small earthquakes."

It's done through a method called 'nowcasting,' a term borrowed from economics.

"A nowcast is an estimate in economics of the gross domestic product using proxy data or substitute data. That's where this idea comes from that we can determine the current hazard that a region such as Los Angeles is subject to by looking at the number of small earthquakes and counting them."

To hear more about what the Earthquake Potential Score means for Angelenos, click the blue play button above.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Enjoy Take Two®? Try KPCC’s other programs.

What's popular now on KPCC