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Earthquake! What's Your Risk?

SAN FRANCISCO (Ivanhoe Newswire) --A 7.2 earthquake last month devastated parts of eastern Turkey. More than 600 people died as buildings collapsed and roads were torn apart. We don’t know when the next big one will hit…but is your home ready? Do you know how much damage a 7.2 quake would do to your home? We’ll show you why there’s an easy way to find out.

The earthquake that hit Turkey in October was one of several major quakes to rattle big cities this year, but just how much damage would a big one do to your home? This room is full of geologists, computer scientists and engineers who are working to predict just that.

“You can’t prepare effectively unless you have a risk assessment available to you,” William Graves, President & CEO of Open Hazards told Ivanhoe.

Right now, a homeowner can request maps to find out their risk and how close they are to a fault line, but not everyone is that thorough. It’s time consuming and costly.

“They’re building houses 100 yards away from the faults how would you know that?” Graves said.

At, data from around the world including satellite images and seismic measurements taken below ground are put together in real time to show each person’s own risk.

“The inputs we need to make that work are things like year it was built, number of stories, what type of ground it’s on,” John Rundle, geologist at Open Hazards told Ivanhoe.

Pat and Rich reed have lived in California for more than 60 years—they’ve seen and felt their share of quakes.

“A glass fell out of the cupboard and onto the floor and it didn’t break, but the cupboard door wasn’t open.” Pat Reed told Ivanhoe.

They’ve always had insurance, but never needed to make a claim. Now, they’re testing out to find out what their risk would be. They’re using the free damage estimator on the site.

For instance, if a 5.8 quake hits close to a home on 39th avenue in San Francisco—the user puts in the age of the home, how big it is, what it’s made out of and what type of ground the house is sitting on. The computer estimates that the quake would cause $2,000-worth of damage—allowing people to decide for themselves if $2,000 a year of earthquake insurance is worth it.

If it destroyed your whole house, where would you get the money to build a new house? It was critical to have it I think,” Reed said.

The site also ranks 102 cities by risk. Right now, Tokyo is number one.

“Probability of mag six is within one year is 14% probability within 15 miles of Tokyo,” Rundle said.

Allowing governments, states, cities, companies and you and me to prepare for earthquakes to happen where we live.

Open Hazards is also working to include wild fire, hurricane, flood and radon contamination risk. Many parts of the website are free, but for detailed, personal reports, costs range from $19 to $40.

The American Geophysical Union contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.

Click here to Go Inside This Science and View Video or contact:

John Rundle
Contact Person

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Prior Reports
DBIS was a joint production of Ivanhoe Broadcast News and the American Institute of Physics from January 2005 - December 2011.
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