San Francisco earthquake: Model Impact Estimates $400 Million to $2 BIllion

The second model suite is showing lower damage estimates than the initial model run.  The “Primary” model is indicating $1.7 Billion, with a range of around $400 Million to $2 Billion, average right at $1 Billion.  These may be a bit high given the event happened on a Sunday morning and the economic impact side is probably a little high. We’ll see as the damage reports come in.

Update: Earthquake damage estimates are highly dependent on what is called the “attenuation function” or AF, also called the ground motion function.  Simplified a bit, this is the rate at which the ground shaking decreases as the distance from the fault rupture increases.  For this earthquake it is especially tricky.  First, there are two main “families” of AF, for large and small earthquakes.  This earthquake falls right on the borderline of those two families.  Second, California is geologically complex and, finally, parts are virtually uninhabited right next to densely populated areas, small differences in position and depth make a big difference in projected damage.  The full range of AF that we have run so far this morning (14 models) gives a range of from $400 Million to nearly $10 Billion in impacts!  The best estimate is between $1 and $3 Billion at the moment.  As more seismic data is processed, and actual damage observations come in we can refine those estimates.

9:30am ET Update: With the updated magnitude (6.05), depth, and position, the average of the 15 models that make sense to run for this event are hovering at around $3 Billion in impacts, although the range is quite large, from just under $1 Billion to over $10 Billion, and our “primary” single model is at over $6 Billion (which, again, maybe be ‘hot’ due to the time of day and that it is a Sunday).

Significant earthquake near San Francisco


A near 6.0 shallow earthquake has occurred northeast of San Francisco at 6:20 am ET.  The quick-look model shows nearly $5 Billion in damage and 2 to 4 million people in the zone of greatest risk.  UPDATE: The full suite of model runs lowered the estimate quite a bit, to between $400 Million and $3 Billion, average around $1 Billion.  Scary place to have an earthquake – could have been much much worse.

Ash pattern forecast from potential Bárðarbunga eruption

The Icelandic Met Office has detected a small lava eruption under the Dyngjujökull glacier.  If it melts through to the surface (it is under between 150 and 400 meters of ice), an eruption could spew steam and ash high enough to disrupt transatlantic and European air traffic.  If it blows in the next few hours (around Noon US time), here is a forecast of where the ash from an eruption might go over the next 48 hours:

I ran this forecast  using a modified version of the Advanced Research WRF model (ARW); the graphics were generated by the VAPOR package.  And, yes , there is an animation . . .



Even more earthquakes in Iran

A weird cluster of earthquakes in western Iran, near Dehloran:

One of them last night (Iran time) was a significant 6.2, probably upwards of $50 Million in damage.  There have at least 10 earthquakes clustered in this area, and a couple more nearby.  Given the focus on the Iranian nuclear program, and the vulnerability of many of their sites to seismic damage, this is worth keeping an eye on.

Significant Earthquake in Yunnan Province, China

There was a significant earthquake in China over night (US time; 430 in the afternoon China time).  Here is the impact map from my Midgard model:

The current magnitude estimate is 6.1, and since it was shallow, damage near the epicenter is probably significant.  Models are estimating around $1 Billion USD in damage, and there are 3 million people in the zone where some building damage is likely, and nearly 500 thousand in the area where building collapse is possible.  Early reports are of 26 killed, “dozens” injured, but I expect those numbers are low.

Update:  as expected the death toll is rising, 367 dead and 1300 injured.  Would not be surprised to see these number increase by a factor of 2 or so before the final count is in.

6.8 Magnitude quake off Japan


A shallow 6.8 quake (Updated: 6.5) occurred just offshore from Japan, about 125km/78 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi NPS.  A small tsunami, one meter or less, should have just hit the shoreline (about 4pm EDT, 5am Japan time).  Damage should be light, however, the acceleration forces on the contaminated water storage tank “shantytown” was in the neighborhood of .05g, which might cause problems with the piping and connections, as well as sloshing around and causing damage that way.  Probably nothing major unless something broke that shouldn’t have – which, given the history of the site, is not comforting.

Major Earthquake in Mexico

There was a magnitude 7.1 earthquake on the pacific shoreline of Mexico this morning.  Quick look impact map and population at risk maps are here.  Fairly deep – 92km, lots of people felt it.  Our primary damage model indicated about $14 Million in damage, but the range is all over the place depending on which seismic model is used, from $4 Million to $200 Million.  Update: Here’s the map . . .


Update: Magnitude has been reduced to 6.9.  Still a very strong quake . . .