What is the Earthquake Risk in California?

Home > Earthquake Risk
15,700
Known faults in California
500+
Active faults in California
>99%
Chance of 1 or more M6.7 or greater earthquakes striking CA
30
Most Californians live within 30 miles of an active fault
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California Earthquakes Happen All the Time

California is home to two-thirds of our nation’s earthquake risk

We all know that California is earthquake country. But do you know your local risk? Learn about earthquake faults in your area, and discover the disruptions that could occur after a big quake. 

Learn more about your Local Risk

California is home to two-thirds of our nation’s earthquake risk
California Earthquake History Timeline

See Notable Quakes in California​

California earthquakes have been documented for hundreds of years! We've compiled a list of noteworthy temblors in our state with an earthquake history timeline.​ Check it out, and expand your earthquake knowledge by perusing​​ our glossary of earthquake terms.

See the timeline

Preparing Your House

Preparing Your House

Do you know the importance of seismic retrofitting? Learn about geological risks for houses in California, discover available options, and get resources needed to prepare your older house against earthquake damage.

Learn how to strengthen your house

Preparing Your House
Personal Preparedness

Prepare, Survive & Recover

You can’t predict when an earthquake will strike. But you can be prepared for one. Take steps now to prepare—before the next damaging earthquake affects you and your family.

Get Earthquake Ready

Earthquake Risk FAQs

We've gathered some frequently asked questions about earthquake risk to help you understand how an earthquake could affect you. Learn more about your local risk and how to prepare for earthquakes.
Q. What is the risk of a California earthquake?

A. According to the third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF3) report, in the next 30 years (beginning in 2014), there is a:

  • More than 99% chance that one or more M6.7 or greater earthquakes will strike somewhere in California
  • 75% chance one or more M7.0 or greater earthquakes will strike Southern California
  • 76% chance one or more M7.0 or greater earthquakes will strike Northern California

Check to see earthquake risk near you and take steps to get prepared!

Q. Is my home at risk from an earthquake?
A. There are thousands of known faults in California, and scientists continue to discover new ones. Since earthquakes can happen anywhere in California, damage to your home and personal property is always possible. Check to see earthquake risk near you and take steps to get prepared!
Q. What fault is California on?
A. The state of California isn’t on any one particular fault, but rather, on thousands of known faults that crisscross the state. Scientists continue to discover new faults all the time. Check to see earthquake risk near you and take steps to get prepared!
Q. Do I still need earthquake insurance if my home isn’t on or near an earthquake fault?
A. Most Californians live within 30 miles of an active fault and earthquakes can strike anywhere, at any time—even on previously unknown faults. Even if your home is miles away from a fault or the epicenter of an earthquake, you could still experience damage from an earthquake. Check to see earthquake risk near you and take steps to get prepared!
Q. What could the Big One earthquake look like in California?
A. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Big One is a hypothetical southern California 7.8M earthquake modeled to cause 1800 deaths and cause $213 billion in economic losses. 
Q. How can I be prepared for an earthquake?
A. You can prepare by practicing Drop, Cover, and Hold On and put into action the Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety. Talk to your insurance agent to discuss your insurance options.  
Q. If a big earthquake hit, won’t the government bail me out?
A. Government assistance is not always available. First, you must qualify, and grants are often limited to urgent health and safety needs. And government loans to rebuild may be less than you need, but like your mortgage, must still be repaid.
Q. What does it mean when you say CEA uses “best available science” to set policyholder rates?
A. When the legislature established CEA 25 years ago, it established a requirement that CEA use “best available science” for rate setting purposes.
Q. What sources does CEA rely on to determine best available science?
A. Although not specifically identified by statute, we have historically relied on the United States Geological Survey (USGS) as the state-of-the-art expert regarding earthquake science.
Q. Has CEA ever re-examined its reliance on USGS as the exclusive voice of the scientific community?

A. Yes. In the fall of 2021, CEA established a Best Available Science Committee (BASC) to investigate recently published research, identifying elements of previous USGS reports that deserve further attention. The committee conducted 13 interviews with leading scientists and researchers, as well as with representatives of the three commercial modeling companies: CoreLogic, RMS, and AIR.<.p>

BASC has not identified any short-term or immediate modifications that should be made to CEA’s current view of risk but will be working with California Geological Survey (CGS) and USGS to enhance CEA’s participation in the development and validation of future USGS models.

Recent California Earthquake Activity
M 2.7
20km NE of San Lucas, CA
Time
Friday, December 2, 2022
1:49 PM
Location
36.249°N 120.847°W
Depth
8.05 km ( 5.00 mi )

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M 2.6
5km WSW of Ojai, CA
Time
Friday, December 2, 2022
5:08 AM
Location
34.430°N 119.292°W
Depth
10.61 km ( 6.59 mi )

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M 3.9
4km WSW of Big Pine, CA
Time
Friday, December 2, 2022
4:21 AM
Location
37.156°N 118.338°W
Depth
8.17 km ( 5.08 mi )

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M 2.6
6km E of Round Valley, CA
Time
Friday, December 2, 2022
2:36 AM
Location
37.416°N 118.534°W
Depth
6.4 km ( 3.98 mi )

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M 2.9
38km SSE of San Clemente Is. (SE tip), CA
Time
Friday, December 2, 2022
2:04 AM
Location
32.536°N 118.131°W
Depth
5.96 km ( 3.70 mi )

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