RESTON, Va.—Scientists recently unveiled a hypothetical scenario describing how a magnitude-7.8 Southern California earthquake—similar to the recent earthquake in China—would impact the region. Impacts include loss of lives and massive damage to infrastructure, including critical transportation, power, and water systems. In the scenario, the earthquake would kill 1800 people, injure 50,000, cause $200 billion in damage, and have long-lasting social and economic consequences.

This is the most comprehensive analysis ever of what a major Southern California earthquake would mean, and is the scientific framework for what will be the largest earthquake preparedness drill in California history, scheduled for November 13, 2008.

The scientific report describing "The ShakeOut Scenario," jointly published by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the California Geological Survey (CGS), was released in May during a Congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. The House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, led by Chairman Jim Costa (D-CA), held an oversight hearing on USGS efforts to prepare for future earthquakes.

Although imaginary, "The ShakeOut Scenario" is based on scientists’ best predictions of what would actually occur during and after a major earthquake on the San Andreas Fault.

A copy of the full technical report "The ShakeOut Scenario" is available online at, and a non-technical summary narrative is online at Paper copies of the narrative are available by request. High-resolution images and a computer animation showing the scenario earthquake rupture and the waves of energy spreading across Southern California are online at For more information, contact Clarice Nassif Ransom at 703-648-4299 or