Researchers: 6.9 earthquake in San Diego could kill thousands, cost billions of dollars

Posted at 6:02 AM, Sep 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-13 21:50:16-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A team of researchers, geologists and engineers Wednesday will present their latest research on San Diego's Rose Canyon fault, and their predictions are costly and deadly.

Since 2015, the group has been analyzing the damage a magnitude 6.9 earthquake along the fault would cause.

"You would feel shaking all the way to El Cajon and beyond into the desert," said geotechnical and seismic engineer Jim Gingery.

Gingery and other experts have been volunteering their time to contribute to the study, sponsored by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute.

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While the study is not complete, they do have preliminary data.

Among some of the findings: a 6.9-magnitude earthquake along the fault could result in tens of thousands of buildings being damaged. The group believe costs could climb from $30 billion to $40 billion.

Researchers worry an event of this scale could also trigger a massive landslide, pushing water and generating a tsunami, flooding the Silver Strand within minutes.

The study estimates 1,000 to 2,000 people overall could be killed by such an earthquake event.

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While the data is alarming, Gingery cautions that the probability of an event like this happening is low. The team hopes the information will help educate the public and policy makers in order to prepare for the long run, continuing to retrofit old buildings.

Gingery said on average, magnitude 6.9 earthquakes happen every few hundred years.

Researchers believe Rose Canyon fault saw a 6.0 quake in 1862.