Scientists Say The Entire San Andreas Fault Could Rupture To Cause A California-Wide 8.3 Magnitude Quake

Californians like to joke about the “The Big One” a lot; we’ve been told so often that a major earthquake somewhere along the infamous San Andreas fault is imminent that most Californians like to indulge in doomsday humor about it. Well, scientists are back with more of dark news about this coming day of destruction.


For a long time, it was believed that the San Andreas, which is over 800 miles long, could not rupture all at once, but only in fragmented segments. Apparently, scientists are backtracking the improbability of that particular doomsday scenario and now think that the whole thing could potentially crack at once in a huge, 8.3 blowout.


While not quite the largest quake in recorded history (for example, a Chilean earthquake in 1960 registered as a massive 9.5), if this happened, it would certainly cause devastation on an unprecedented scale. Over 3.5 million homes could be destroyed, and the damage to them and to state infrastructure could total $289 billion, an estimate provided by the Wall Street Journal.

It’s almost impossible to imagine this kind of destruction. To give you an idea of scale, in October, scientists estimated that the collapse of two faults that run underneath San Francisco Bay and only span a measly 118 mile stretch could spell enough disaster to make Hurricane Katrina look like child’s play. That one would at most reach a 7.4.

As of right now, only 1 in 10 Californians have earthquake insurance, which seems like folly considering that the National Geological Survey determined recently that the state is due for a large earthquake in the next 30 years.