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California Earthquake Forecast – Update 3

Posted by feww on September 24, 2009

For background and latest update see:

Up to three earthquakes measuring magnitude 6.2 or greater could strike Western US in 2009

California Earthquake Forecast: UPDATE #3

Magnitude 7.6  to  7.9 earthquake could strike the SF Bay Area, northern California in 2009

FEWW Moderators Forecast a magnitude 7.6 to 7.9  earthquake and two possible aftershocks measuring about 5.5 Mw (subject to the magnitude of the mainshock) for the San Francisco Bay Area, northern California in 2009.

Details of EQ Forecast

  • Magnitude: 7.6 to 7.9 Mw
  • Provisional date:  September 28, 2009
  • Date uncertainty: ~ 90 Days
  • Epicenter: 37° 52′ 20″N, 122° 15′ 10″W
  • Depth: 9.0 km
  • Depth uncertainty: ±2.8 km
  • Location: ~2.88 km (1.79miles ) east of Berkeley Fire Departments: Fire Prevention & Disaster Preparedness (CA 94702).
  • Location uncertainty:
    • Up to 5 km to the west of Hayward Fault
    • Up to 14 km NNW within a 5-km corridor along the Hayward Fault
    • Up to 22 km SSE within a 5-km corridor along the Hayward Fault
  • Probability of of occurrence 0.8 [77%]

Map of Hayward Fault
Map of N California Fault Lines. Source: USGS

Satellite map
Satellite map of forecast epicenter.
Source: Google Maps [See terms of use for copyright information.]

Hayward EQ Forecast
FEWW Bay Area Earthquake Forecast Uncertainty Zone.
Source: Google Earth [See terms of use for copyright information.]

Note: This forecast does NOT preclude the possibility of other seismic events in the area at any time.

Related Links:

57 Responses to “California Earthquake Forecast – Update 3”

  1. Matt said

    [A forecast for seismic activity in Japan together with our reasons for not releasing specific details were posted a day before The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake struck. See

    See also forecast posted on June 13, 2010

  2. Tina J. said

    [Thanks for comment. Please see – Moderator]

  3. feww said

    Strong Earthquake Hits SoCal

  4. […] California Earthquake Forecast – Update 3 [September 24, 2009] […]

  5. feww said

    M7.3 Quake Hits Baja, Kills One

  6. […] Strong Quake Strikes Offshore N California Volcanoes Earthquakes FEWW Volcano Links California Earthquake Forecast – Update 3 […]

  7. feww said

    Strong Quake Strikes Offshore N California

  8. Dea said

    Interesting blog — I am strictly amateur, but have always tracked natural disasters. Can you put the North California January 2010 EQ in the context of the EQ storms I have read about? There was a series that spoke particularly of the faults laying beneath the Mediterranean and particularly through Turkey. Thanks. I am interested in your perspective.

  9. K said

    Yesterday’s EQ in SF appears to have been on the Calaveras fault where the northern and southern Calaveras faults and the Hayward fault intersect. Could this possibly have been a foreshock for a greater event. As in the event in your forecast?

  10. JP T said

    I have two questions, if you would:

    1. What would you call a “definite forecast,” which could then be regarded as a “hit” or a “miss.”

    2. Have you made any other forecasts which were not subject to the factors stated in your earlier reply?

    • feww said

      If a forecast came with a probability tag of “100 percent” and it didn’t materialize, it could be regarded as a “miss,” provided that the effects of all external factors had been accounted for.

      As for your second question, see FEWW Forecast at

      And the subsequent seismic event report at

      The Kermadec forecast was least affected by the “observer effect” because of its remote location [it created minimum observer interactivity,] as well as the absence of specific details (e.g., coordinates of the epicenter, exact magnitude of aftershocks and so on).

      The event occurred later than forecast, however. Instead of the 18-24 days from the date of forecast [September 30, 2008,] it occurred on December 10, 2008.

      I hope this is helpful.

      • George said

        So, what you’re saying is Northern California will have EQ’s of the forecasted magnitude the model just doesn’t accurately predict when? While this is helpful to some of us in terms of prepardness, at the same time it isn’t for we still don’t know exactly when it will hit.

        • feww said

          Here’s a summary of the points concerning EarthModel (EM) capabilities – General Case:

          Subject to the quality of input data, EM can forecast
          1. The amount of EQ stress energy with phenomenal accuracy
          2. Location of epicenter
          3. Breakdown of the aftershocks
          4. The time of occurrence is currently imprecise/ poorly translated between the model interfaces.

          The Paradox: As the resolution of details for a given forecast increases, the “observer effect” kicks in, and the uncertainty principle takes over.

          EM and the N Calif forecast – Special case

          The forecast for N Calif may have been affected by the powerful Earthquake the struck Baja.

          If the forecast doesn’t materialize, say by June 2010, we’ll recalculate all of the parameters.

          … helpful to some of us in terms of prepardness, at the same time it isn’t for we still don’t know exactly when it will hit.

          Short of time travel to witness the future events, there aren’t many other ways to get that information right now.

  11. K said

    Would you be able to elaborate as to what you mean by “Observer effect” and “Timescale”.
    Also, what do you mean by “May have to shift up to 9 decimal places”?

    • feww said

      The definition for “observer effect” in this case refers to a combination of two factors:
      1. Application of the uncertainty principle as it pertains to the specific solution
      2. The “effect” of, or interaction between “observer” [you, us, and everyone else involved, who is plugged in] and the energy fields that make up our world.

      Each step of the event that is being calculated has a “timeline,” which corresponds to an event-specific “seismic clock,” a “Scale” of which is adjusted to correspond to the common clock.

      EarthModel simulations use a six-decimal-place accuracy by default, mostly due to processing constraints.

  12. George said

    Today is officially the last day for your forecast to be an actual hit given your ~90 days from your start date of 9/28/09. Given that to this date California has not had an earthquake of your forecaseted magnitude…what does it do to your forecast? Do you extend it until it becomes a hit or is it simply a miss and you move on to a new forecast? Also, have the lower magnitude earthquakes in CA and the recurring earthquakes in the south pacific increased or decreased the chances of CA being hit soon according to your model?

    • feww said

      We’ll provide updates in the next few weeks/months. Several factors may have affected the forecast(s):
      1. Observer effect
      [This is the most intriguing of all factors.]
      2. Time Scale
      [May have to shift up to 9 decimal places, but would face processing power constraints.]
      3. Seismic event in the Gulf of California

      Fire Earth forecasts for EQ in Tokyo Bay [and possibly Alaska] may have been/would be subject to the same factors.

      EarthModel looks for hotspots, estimates the amount of EQ stress energy buildup, and the most likely place for a major seismic event to occur.

  13. Skeptic said

    It is now October 21st, almost a month after your forecasted date, yes, it’s understood that it is +90 days but there really has not been any significant activity in California at all that would lead us to believe that we’re in for a major quake. Whether it be northern or southern CA. I think all these little shakers up and the down the coast have released some stress thereby reducing the probability of anything major in the very near future. I think that for CA to have a potentially catastrophic EQ such as the one you have forecasted, we have to see some indicator EQ’s first, say in the range of Mag 5.0+ so to speak. And sadly, yet luckly for those in CA, I feel that your forecast is pretty much a miss.

    • feww said

      It’s interesting to note how many internet experts there are on seismicity!

      “there really has not been any significant activity in California at all that would lead us to believe that we’re in for a major quake … we have to see some indicator EQ’s first, say in the range of Mag 5.0+ so to speak.”

      Says who?

      “I think all these little shakers up and the down the coast have released some stress thereby reducing the probability of anything major in the very near future.”


      Just exactly how many of “these little shakers up and the down the coast” do you “think” it would take to “release” the stress energy of a 7.9 Mw quake?

      a) Few of them will do, if they occur every day
      b) About a thousand, depending on the exact locations
      c) One million
      d) A billion

      [Hint: energy released by a 3.9 quake is 1,000 times larger than that of an M 1.9]

  14. K said

    Back on the sea lion issue, up in San Mateo County and in Half Moon Bay there’s been a major upsurge in the amount of dead sea lions washing up ashore. Then today I was reading an article on the San Luis Obispo Tribune regarding a dead blue whale on the border of Monterey County. While ENSO might be a likely culprit, I can’t help but wonder, even more so with all these large earthquakes in the pacific. It reminded me of the humbolt squid down in southern california earlier this year as well (which occured both before and after earthquakes in both La Jolla and the Gulf of California).

    • feww said

      It’s a healthy fascination! And it would make interesting reading if all such incidents were to be cataloged accurately, in some detail, with other probable causes of death eliminated. But it would be impossible to establish a reliable pattern with just a few samples.

    • feww said

      Here’s one on Galapagos sea lions

      Galapagos sea lions head for warm Peru waters

      A colony of sea lions endemic to the Galapagos Islands have moved 1,500km away, a Peru-based organisation which monitors the aquatic mammals has said.

      The Organisation for Research and Conservation of Aquatic Animals says the sea lions have swum to northern Peru because of rising temperatures.

      They says the temperature rise was caused by climate change.

      Experts say it is the first time that Galapagos sea lions have set up a colony outside the islands.

      The monitors say the water temperature in Piura, off the coast of northern Peru, has risen from 17C to 23C over the last 10 years.

      The temperature is much closer to the sea temperature around the Galapagos Islands, which averages about 25C.

      Now that the conditions of the sea around northern Peru are so similar to the Galapagos, they say, even more sea lions and other new marine species could start arriving.

      Like so many native species in the Galapagos Islands, the sea lions are unique to the archipelago, located about 600 miles west of continental Ecuador.

      The great IRONY is that we are expecting a major earthquake in the Galápagos hotspot, or nearby, as well as volcanic activity in the region ANYTIME!

    • feww said

      Here’s another one you might want to follow up on:
      Seventy pilot whales stranded in Nelson’s Golden Bay

  15. medrank said

    I was recently on an EQ forum (earthboppin)in which a man by the name Jack Coles is predicting an earthquake for the area of Northern California onto Oregon and Washington. His forecast method is based on piezoelectric discharges. The most recent post indicates the potential dates of 10/14, 10/19 10/26-27. There was also a post correlating weather (storms)and earthquakes. Does your forecast method incorporate either of these two methods? Do the recent string of strong earthquakes in the south pacific, increase the probablity of the earthquake in Northern Cal happening sooner rather than later or do they simply help ascertain the epicenter and magnitude?

    • feww said

      Interesting how contagious earthquake forecast has turned out to be!
      “Does your forecast method incorporate either of these two methods?”
      The model incorporates detailed ice mechanics (as well as large-scale landslides caused by flooding …). Tectonics of the pacific plate are extremely important.
      “… increase the probability of the earthquake in Northern Cal happening sooner rather than later”
      Probably! But, it’s a complex relationship, which also depends on a large number of other variables.

  16. KC said

    Sea Lion explanation in MSNBC article.

    The record number of adult sea lions follows a record number of yearlings earlier this summer. At the time that was blamed on an ocean upwelling pattern that shifted the animal’s source of food.

    “Now, the older sea lions that are out there are seeking food wherever they can find it,” Marine Mammal Center director Jeff Boehm said, “and the current run of anchovies has a lot of them hanging out in some areas in greater numbers than we’ve grown used to.”

    Experts say they have responded to nearly 1,500 animals in need of rescue so far this year. That’s nearly triple the average.

    And this might not be the end of the sea lion saga of 2009. If El Nino conditions continue at the equator, the Marine Mammal workers say they are sure to be for a buy rescue season come this winter.

  17. KC said

    Interesting info here. I live very near the Rogers Creek fault line in Sonoma. A friend in town is the head of the Red Cross and he said we should prepare for a 99.7 chance that this fault line will activate very soon. I saw your data was Piedmont. Have you looked at the Rogers Creek fault line recently?

    • feww said

      While nothing can be ruled out in California’s seismic jungle, it’d be interesting to find out whether the Red Cross opinion is model based or just a hunch.

      Could you also ask your friend, if he knows what happened to all the donations the Red Cross received in NYC 8 years ago?

  18. K said

    Yesterday I can accross an article on MSNB regarding Pier 39 and a recent increase in sea lions….apparently last friday there were over 1585 sea lions. I’ve been to Pier 39 many times before and have never seen that many. I’ve read on such “anomalies” and them being precursors to large earthquakes; Does your earth model take such occurences into consideration?

    • feww said

      “apparently last friday there were over 1585 sea lions. … I’ve read on such “anomalies” and them being precursors to large earthquakes; Does your earth model take such occurences into consideration?”

      They sometimes are. And wish the model could, but it doesn’t.
      That’s collective human wisdom.

  19. feww said

    Google Earth has erased our notes and markings for the the forecast epicenter. In fact it doesn’t show the exact location for the coordinates at
    37° 52′ 20″N, 122° 15′ 10″W

    When we last punched in those coordinates, it didn’t land us on the exact location. Instead, we landed on the following address, which wasn’t there yesterday.

    “2201-2227 Piedmont Extension, Berkeley, CA 94720”

  20. Andrea said

    Who is FEWW? I can’t find it anywhere…

    • feww said

      FEWW moderators are one of 4 groups of highly knowledgeable, aware and motivated individuals endeavoring to save as much of the collapsing world as possible… in the hope that evolving species might be spared.

      For a sample of activities from other groups see:

      • Matthew said

        I find your wording interesting. Are you using history known to you in making these predictions?

        “endeavoring to save as much of the collapsing world as possible”, “evolving species” & “We think, therefore we ARE!” I find that very 4th demensional speech, or type, as speech would not be a prereq for the next dimension

        • edro said

          Study contents of the listed blogs, to see if you still need an additional, spoken answer.
          And here’re the blog questions for you:
          1. Where exactly do YOU think you are:
          a. Timespace-wise
          b. Evolutionary-wise
          c. Purpose-wise

          2. What’s your definition of 4th dimension?

          • Matthew said

            First, I know 2 things.

            I know that I dont know anything
            I have beliefs

            In the reality that I perceive….
            a)Somewhere between what was and what is about to be
            b)Hovering above the bottom of the barrel, but with intent and focus, hopeful
            c)Seeking a greater awareness of purpose, trying to understand thought that can think, can you help?

            2) Still working on awareness of this one

    • Deana said

      I couldn’t find it anywhere either…except on the “worldpress” site.

  21. bgftp said

    [Don’t listen to Fox ‘News’ rumors. Moderator.]

  22. […] event will almost certainly affect the outcome of the FEWW northern California earthquake […]

    • K said

      Will the quake off the coast of Mexico affect the outcome by having released stress and thereby decreasing the magnitude or will it affect it by nucleating the stress upward and thereby increasing the magnitude? Is that possible?

      • feww said

        We believe the latter works, i.e, additional stress energy is transferred to the future event(s). But the main question remains as to how far a shock of that magnitude could have shifted the forecast epicenter. Would the stress energy change course [“bump” the built-up stress before it’s released] from Hayward Fault to another zone?

        Forecasting earthquakes, especially for N California, is like playing an 8-dimensional chess game against a super-intelligent dynamic ‘algorithm.’

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