These are my notes on the UC Irvine Forum given by Lisa Grant Ludwig, Professor of Public Health at UCI, on Dec. 12, 2012. The title was:
A Multidisciplinary Approach to Solving the Earthquake Problem
(The slides from part of the talk at a conference will be made available on the web sometime.)
The Earthquake problem is really a complex system of coupled human and natural systems. Its impact up to us as a public health problem of where and how we build, and how we prepare to respond to an earthquake and possible associated tsunami.
Our planning starts with observations of earthquakes and faults. It is expanded by experimentation, modeling and simulation. That is then followed by behavior modification to adapt to the risk through location, building standards, planning emergency preparation and response (not to mention insurance).
Observation in time, space, and scales is partly carried out by aerial surveillance programs UAVSAR http://uavsar.jpl.nasa.gov/ for radar measurements up to a meter accuracy, and InSAR radar interference with accuracy up to a centimeter.
The California earthquake model was formulated in 2008.
Lisa has been mapping the Carrizo Plain area of the San Andreas fault and the earthquake frequency there. There is a 2010 Science article by her.
In evaluating risk they use expert opinion and a logic tree.
She also speculated that Yucca Mountain could come back as a nuclear waste disposal site.
They have developed the http://www.QuakeSim.org/ virtual lab and app for Southern California. It won the NASA software of the year award. More work is needed.
A spinoff is a business http://www.openhazards.com/ group that makes forecasts, but they provide a 5 year forecast for free.
The Public Health approach is to: Define the Problem; Identify the Risk; Develop Interventions; and Test them.
Concern is over fatalities, injuries, infrastructure damage and resulting problems.
The numbers of fatalities can be very large: Haiti had 220,000; Sumatra had 280,000; and Tangshan had 300;000.
By comparison, US deaths from injuries yearly is 148,000. This places it behind cancer and heart disease.
The key to preparation is a personal belief in a threat to a person, and that preparation and is a wise response. During a quake, the important action is drop, cover, and hold on to your cover, which may move.
More information is found on http://www.shakeout.org/
Prepare an earthquake kit, and store a week or two of water at a gallon of water per person per day. Choices in preparation and response do matter.
A wise society would give a Letter Grade to rate the earthquake risk for buildings like they do for restaurants. The rating would depend on the construction method, on the site geology, and on the general area hazard risk. A risk calculator should be developed for this.
In California it is up to local government whether to mark buildings. The only known example is Monterey.
To a question on San Onofre, she replied that she didn’t know how it was designed so she couldn’t comment on it. We don’t expect a magnitude 9 earthquake there as near Fukushima.
A process of earthquake and tsunami risk is scheduled there. The faults here are not the same as the subduction ones as at Japan.