The San Francisco Bay region has a 25 percent chance of a magnitude 7 or greater earthquake in the next 20 years, and a roughly 1 percent chance of such an earthquake each year, according to the "Virtual California" computer simulation.
In this computer graphic from Rundles research, colored fringes represent ground movement around faults. (UC Davis Computational Science and Engineering Center/graphic)
The Virtual California approach to earthquake forecasting is similar to the computer models used for weather forecasting, said John Rundle, director of the UC Davis Computational Science and Engineering Center, who has developed the model with colleagues from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and other institutions. A previous forecast of earthquake hazards, the Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities, used records of past earthquakes to calculate the probability of future ones.
The Virtual California model includes 650 segments representing the major fault systems in California, including the San Andreas fault responsible for the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The simulation takes into account the gradual movement of faults and how they interact with each other.
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