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Earthquake Simulator Demonstrates Huge Magnitude 7.1 Quake

April 12, 2022

In April 2022, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) rolled into cities across the Golden State with an important message: learn how to stay safe during an earthquake. To drive home that point, they brought along a four-seater earthquake simulator on wheels, so residents can experience what a strong M7.1 quake feels like. And since April is Earthquake Preparedness Month in California, it was a timely reminder that we all need to know how to be prepared for and recover from a damaging earthquake.

MyShake earthquake simulator
(L-R) Diana Crofts-Pelayo (Cal OES), Brian Ferguson (Cal OES) being shaken up by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake simulator at the State Capitol on Apr. 7.

The five-city simulator tour gave residents in San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Berkeley, and Salinas an opportunity to hop on and feel how strong the shaking in a major earthquake can be. More importantly, they learned what to do when a major earthquake occurs. That is critical because California is earthquake country, and most Californians live within 30 miles from an active seismic fault.

Cal OES earthquake simulator at the State Capitol
The Cal OES team tested the earthquake simulator that mimicked a magnitude 7.1 quake at the State Capitol in on Apr. 7.

“Earthquakes are one of our top three hazards here in California. We have wildfires and floods, which happen often. In terms of earthquakes, we have not had a big one in a while, though scientists tell us that we are due,” said Lori Nezhura, Deputy Director of Planning Preparation and Prevention at Cal OES. “So, we want everyone to enjoy our simulator and experience a 7.1 earthquake, as well as learning about how they can prepare themselves, their family, and their community.”

Cal OES, working the earthquake information booth at the State Capitol
(L-R) Cynthia Pridmore, California Geological Survey and Sheri Blankenheim, Cal OES, working the earthquake information booth at the State Capitol in Sacramento, CA on Apr. 7.

California has more than one million homes that are vulnerable to earthquake damage—and many of them are in the cities the Cal OES quake simulator visited this spring break. That vulnerability is why the California Earthquake Authority (CEA) formed a partnership with Cal OES in an ongoing effort to urge residents to strengthen their homes against earthquake damage. One result of the partnership is that—to date—more than 16,000 residents have received grants and retrofitted their homes, through the Earthquake Brace + Bolt program, to make them more resistant to earthquake damage.

CEA and Earthquake Brace + Bolt branded houses were on display during the event at the State Capitol in Sacramento, CA
CEA and Earthquake Brace + Bolt branded houses were on display during the event at the State Capitol in Sacramento, CA on Apr. 7.

CEA promotional materials, on display at the stimulator events, are great outreach tools to remind people that more than 15,000 known faults crisscross the Golden State and at least 500 of them are active. We encourage families to know what to do when the earth shakes, including practicing how to properly Drop, Cover, and Hold On and to download the MyShake alert app. You can find more tips on what you should do during an earthquake on our preparedness page.

Cynthia Pridmore, California Geological Survey, showing children what faults exist in California during the event at the State Capitol in Sacramento CA
(Upper left) Cynthia Pridmore, California Geological Survey, showing children what faults exist in California during the event at the State Capitol in Sacramento, CA on Apr. 7.

By the end of the tour Cal OES reported 10,021 downloads of the MyShake app during the week of the tour! And nearly 500 kids, school children and residents were shaken up by the earthquake simulator machine. A fun reminder that since no one knows where and when the ‘Big One’ will strike, we all need to be prepared.

Learn more about earthquake safety and preparedness on our Resources page.



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