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San Diego Earthquake Risk

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What is the Earthquake Risk in San Diego?

San Diego

Like all of California, San Diego is earthquake country. Many of the mountains, and some of the valleys, in Southern California were formed by the San Andreas fault system—the tectonic boundary between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates—which runs to the east of San Diego County from the Gulf of California up through the Salton Sea and into the Los Angeles region. It is the longest fault in California and can cause powerful earthquakes—as big as magnitude 8—that can still generate strong shaking levels in San Diego. 

The Rose Canyon fault runs along the coast and beneath downtown San Diego. Geologists say this is the biggest earthquake threat to San Diego, capable of earthquakes of magnitude 6.5 to 6.8.  

The Elsinore and San Jacinto faults cut through East County and can also generate moderately-sized but potentially damaging earthquakes. 

Soils in lowland areas away from major faults may be subject to liquefaction. Houses on liquefied soil may settle or even move laterally on gentle slopes. Landslides are possible on steep hillsides. 

Learn more about the Earthquake Risk in San Diego and San Diego County.

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