Students and faculty members on campus became part of over 9 million across the state who planned for a potentially disastrous earthquake scenario, also known as the Great California Shakeout. Cypress College participated in the simulation on Thursday Oct 17th at 10:17am. All participates in the drill practiced the required safety procedures necessary for a quick and effective response in a real emergency earthquake. The procedures included the need for an individual to find a safe area in order to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” as well as to protect the head and neck in case of falling objects. Dr. Bob Simpson, President of Cypress College stated, “It’s a great opportunity for us to verify that we are prepared as we need to be for emergencies.”
According to Shakeout.org, the most effective survival technique recommended by local, state, and federal emergency management experts in a severe earthquake is to “Drop, Cover and Hold On”. The need preparation awareness and important safety tips that dills like the Shakeout provide in case of an actual life threatening earthquake serve as a vital component for those living in California due to the Pacific Ring of Fire. According to the textbook Physical Geology, 14th edition, the Ring of Fire also known as the Circum-Pacific Belt, is a lengthy horseshoe shaped belt of seismic activity stretched across the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes occur.
In regards to the overall likelihood of an earthquake impacting Cypress College, Professor of Geology and Natural Disasters on campus, Victoria Castle, stated, “We’ve had earthquakes, although we haven’t had many in the last couple years that have affected us in the Cypress area or in the Orange County area. However, if we go back to 1994 in L.A. that was about a 6.8 to a 6.9 earthquake and that did quite a bit of damage.” The earthquake Professor Castle is referring to is the infamous Northridge Earthquake that took place in 1994, which brought extensive destruction throughout Southern California.
Professor Castle described the devastation in which the Northridge earthquake brought to the Southern California area almost ten years ago and the need for preparation, “People were devastated, they were scared, they were in shock, and afraid to go back in their homes because of the shaking. Freeway over passes collapsed, we had some apartment buildings that collapsed, and many homes were red-tagged so people couldn’t go back into them. We did have quite a bit of damage and that was a large earthquake so we need to be prepared for another one which can happen at any time.”
Due to the inescapable seismic activity in California, it is critical that students and faculty be made aware of the importance in regards to safety procedures involved in an emergency earthquake. When a potentially catastrophic natural disaster such as an earthquake happens to occur, any individuals on campus will benefit from the experience of a drill which experts say will increase the chances of survival. A noteworthy subject matter because the overall probability that a significant earthquake will impact the Southern California area sooner rather than later.
According to the textbook Natural Disasters by Patrick L. Abbot, timescales for long-term predictions of possibility devastating earthquakes are fairly reliable however short-term predictions are not as accurate. One reason why the short-term forecasting of earthquakes is so unreliable is because of random fault movements which make them so unpredictable. There are no definable patterns for the movements faults make. However, even though faults such as the San Andreas fall under this category, scientists do concur that within the next twenty years there will be an enormous likelihood of a substantial earthquake which will impact all those living in Southern California.
In figure 5.14 in Chapter 5 of Natural Disasters, the graphic illustrates that there is a 30-40% overall probability of a 7.0 – 7.5 magnitude earthquake hitting the San Andreas fault between the Mojave and Coachella Valley by 2032. These estimates are accurate because using the same analysis in 1988; geologist predicted the overall likelihood of a large earthquake striking the Northern California area. Months later during the World Series of 1989, a 6.9 magnitude struck the area which geologist precisely predicted. Cypress College students and faculty members who are aware of the risk of a significantly life threatening earthquake that can happen at any moment on campus will be able to put into practice the safety procedures performed during the Shakeout drill which is designed to help save lives and prevent injury.