According to some scientists who study earthquakes and tecnocis, the past 300 years has been a relatively quiet period (the “interseismic period”) for the southern part of the San Andreas Fault. They believe this period is coming to an end, and it’s not a question of if a major earthquake would hit southern California, but when. I heard about the issue from an interview with the lead researcher on All Things Considered.
The interviewer pressured the researcher not to be the “Alan Greenspan of seismology” by not giving a precise prediction, so he gave a 70% chance of a large earthquake — like the Great San Francisco eartquake of 1906 — within the next 30 years. While the resulting quake may be as strong, it may not be as devastating. The lower San Andreas Fault does not run through populated areas.
The announcement of the measurements appears in Nature magazine, but there are certainly financial aspects to this news. If you live in a vulnerable area, you may want to consider earthquake insurance, which is a bit expensive at the moment. Consider that prices may only go upwards. If you don’t live in an earthquake-prone area but are considering buying property… well, news like this usually doesn’t stop most people.
If you want to plan far ahead, buy some nice pre-oceanfront property by looking for land just east of the fault while it’s still cheap.