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Earthquake Risk in San Jose: Facts, Figures, and What You Need to Know

Understanding Fault Intersections and Earthquake Risk in San Jose

Several major faults intersect in San Jose and nearby communities. While these faults contribute to San Jose earthquake risk, the movement of these intersecting faults relieve the grinding between the Pacific and North American plates.

San Jose is the largest city on the north San Andreas Fault Line. Close by the city is the Calaveras fault, which winds through eastern Santa Clara county. It is one of the fastest creeping fault segments in the San Francisco Bay Region.

In 2019, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released new earthquake hazard maps that raised the risk of earthquake damage in San Jose and the South Bay communities. The research supporting the hazard maps showed that longer wavelength ground shaking found in sedimentary basins that rest beneath San Jose.

Long bridges and tall buildings are vulnerable to longer wavelength of ground shaking. The city of San Jose has several tall buildings: the 18-story City Hall, 27-story Marriott Hotel and the 22-story Fairmont Hotel.

See Your Local Earthquake Risk

San Jose earthquake prediction

An earthquake is likely to occur in the greater San Jose region. San Jose is vulnerable to ruptures on the Southern Hayward fault and the Peninsula segment of the San Andreas fault. USGS named both of these faults as particularly “ready” (more likely to rupture).

Effects & damage of a major earthquake in San Jose

San Jose has similarly older and wooden housing stock as the Southern California community of Northridge. Based on the collected damage information from the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, the Associated Bay Area Governments (ABAG) estimates San Jose can expect 30,000 living units damaged or vacated. The range of housing costs could reach $100 million. Infrastructure repairs and replacement could reach more than a billion dollars.

Many people in the San Jose region live in lowland basins that are subject to liquefaction, where water-saturated Earth is shaken strongly during earthquakes. These soil deposits lose their load-bearing strength and behave like a liquid. Buildings and other structures can be damaged when their foundations sink into the soup-like sands. Landslides and mudslides can also be a hazard for homes on hilltops.

Learn About Liquefaction And How To Prepare Your House

San Jose earthquake risk map

San Jose and the surrounding communities are very vulnerable to earthquakes.

Thousands of residents live near active fault zones. Find out your home’s risk and nearby geological hazards by learning about the faults near you.

Notable faults near San Jose

USGS reported that San Jose and South Bay communities welcomed the 2020 new year with a M3.9 earthquake near Morgan Hill on January 1. San Jose earthquake risk is caused by three connected faults: Hayward, Calaveras, and San Andreas.

The Hayward Fault

The Hayward fault is due for another large earthquake very soon. The Hayward fault runs through the East Bay hills from Richmond to San Jose.

In 2015, UC Berkeley researchers suggested that the Hayward fault may be connected to the nearby Calaveras fault, which, if true, would mean the potential for a more powerful quake. Nearly 3 million people currently live along the fault. According to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Hayward fault is a “tectonic time bomb.”

A 2018 USGS model predicted that a magnitude 7.0 quake centered under Oakland would cause hundreds of deaths and more than $80 billion in damages.

The Calaveras Fault

In the past 200 years, the southern half of the central section of the Calaveras fault has been the most active part of the fault, according to the USGS. The Calaveras fault produced the M6.2 Morgan Hill Earthquake in 1984. In 1979, the 5.7M Coyote Lake Earthquake ruptured to the south of the 1984 and 1911 earthquakes.

The Calaveras fault system runs over 80 miles, from south of Hollister into the Danville-Walnut Creek area. It is one of the fastest creeping fault segments in the San Francisco Bay Region.

It produced the October 30, 2007 Alum Rock earthquake in San Jose. It measured M5.6 and with a VI (Strong) intensity. At that time, the event was the largest in the San Francisco Bay Area since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which measured M6.9. The 2015 Napa Earthquake M6.0 is now considered the largest earthquake in the area since Loma Prieta.

The San Andreas Fault

The San Andreas fault is one of the largest fault lines in the world. The fault runs more than 800 miles from the Salton Sea to Cape Mendocino. Considered to be 30 million years old, it divides the state:

  • San Diego, Los Angeles and Big Sur are on the Pacific Plate.
  • San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento and the Sierra Nevada are on the North American Plate.
  • The two plates crisscross with many active and passive earthquake faults.

The fault moves two inches per year and has the potential to unleash a devastating San Jose earthquake, home to Silicon Valley and the headquarters the biggest names in technology.

Image: Downtown San Jose California - What is the risk of an earthquake

How to mitigate earthquake damage

The shaking from a major San Jose earthquake can move everything inside your home.

Prepare for next earthquake by considering the safety of your home. Make or purchase your earthquake safety kit and gather essential supplies. Keep your family safe and prevent the injury of your loved ones by getting ready today.

Don’t forget financial protection against earthquake damage with budget-friendly CEA earthquake insurance. Learn about premium discounts.

A recent ABAG study found that for every $1 spent on mitigation, homeowners can save $3 in earthquake losses. Retrofitting your home also protects your personal property investments and keeps you in your home.

Know What To Do During An Earthquake

When a major San Jose earthquake strikes, you may get a warning of 10 or 15 seconds.

Be prepared with emergency plans and supplies. Sign up with an emergency alert app today. Remember to Drop, Cover, and Hold On.

  • Drop to the ground.
  • Cover. Get under your dining room table or desk. If there isn’t a table or desk nearby, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
  • Hold On. Stay inside and in place until shaking stops. Most injuries occur when people attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.

It’s not enough to be prepared physically when the ground shakes. It’s also important to be financially prepared for the home damage that occurs during the shaking. Find an affordable earthquake insurance policy to protect your property when the big one hits.

Understand Geologic & Structural Risks to Your House

Whether it is the Hayward, Calaveras or San Andreas faults, activity could cause great devastation for the Bay Area communities.

Understand the potential geologic threats to your home in case of a major earthquake by learning your earthquake risk.

The violent shaking from earthquakes can rupture the earth, trigger landslides and turn the surface of the earth to liquid. Your home may be vulnerable to serious structural damage if it was built before 1980, before modern seismic building codes were in place.

Purchase Affordable Coverage

Don’t be caught unprotected when a major San Jose earthquake strikes without warning. Discover CEA affordable and flexible home earthquake insurance policies that:

  • Offer choices of coverage and deductibles.
  • Protect the investment in your home and valuables.
  • Provide homeowner premium discounts if you retrofit your home or mobilehome.
  • Give you peace of mind when, not if, a big San Jose earthquake hits.

Typical home insurance policies and tenant insurance don’t include earthquake coverage. In California, the homeowner or renter needs a separate earthquake policy to cover damages from an earthquake. Choose your policy today with an estimate.

Is earthquake insurance worth it in San Jose?

Are you ready for an earthquake to strike San Jose? New studies show San Jose earthquake risk includes dangers of liquefaction and landslides for the region.

The probability of the next big earthquake in California is more than 99%.* Even if you live miles from an active fault, the damaging effects of earthquakes can travel miles from the epicenter. Consider the following facts when, not if, a major earthquake hits:

Could you:

  • Pay your mortgage for a house that you can’t afford to rebuild?
  • Cover the costs you’d have to pay for temporary accommodations?
  • Repair or replace your personal belongings?

Earthquake Insurance can help reduce the stress and financial burden of experiencing a devastating earthquake. CEA flexible and affordable earthquake insurance policies not only help repair damages. Loss of use coverage covers the costs of temporary shelter and additional living expenses so that families can get back on their feet quicker.

how much is earthquake insurance in San Jose?

The cost of San Jose earthquake insurance depends on the amount of coverage you choose, the location of your home, the home’s structure, and the amount of deductible you select. Learn about premium discounts. Whether you own or rent your home, you can find the right earthquake insurance coverage to fit your budget.

Without earthquake insurance, you will have to pay from savings to repair and replace earthquake damage to your home and valuables, and finance needed temporary housing.

Get started today with an estimate.

*According to the third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF3) report.

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