Scared of Earthquakes? New App Lets You Know if You're on Top of an Earthquake Fault

A new tool from the California Geological Survey (CGS) allows people to check if their property is in a regulatory earthquake hazard zone. As California is no stranger to earthquakes, this app could prove useful for property owners and prospective home-buyers alike.

Years ago, state lawmakers ordered the creation of California maps locating earthquake faults as a matter of public safety. However, these have been published either in paper form or PDF files, while the easy-to-use CGS earthquake tool can be accessed both on smartphones and online. CGS has nicknamed the app “EQ Zapp.”

The application simply asks for an address and then defines areas subject to three distinct types of geologic ground failures: landslides, liquefaction — in which the soil temporarily turns to quicksand and cannot support structures — and fault rupture, where the surface of the earth breaks along a fault, either vertically or laterally, which can damage the stability of overlying structures. All three of these are extremely hazardous.

EQ Zapp could have considerable effects on prospective home-buyers by expanding their considerations when deciding whether to purchase a specific home or not.

"We've created the Earthquake Hazard Zone web application as a public service because home-buyers now are often well into the real estate transaction before they learn that the property falls within a hazard zone," said Dr. John Parrish, the State Geologist of California and head of CGS.

"This will help people who are looking to purchase property identify local hazardous ground conditions," added Tim McCrink, who heads the CGS Seismic Hazards Program. "They'll have to determine whether they’re comfortable being within one of the zones."

CGS has already received praise from the state for their creation of this new installment. “The California Department of Conservation is to be applauded for developing and launching a new consumer app that allows users to type in an address and see what earthquake hazards might underlie and possibly affect the property,” California Bureau of Real Estate Commissioner Wayne Bell said.

“Earthquake safety is very important in California, and this is information that can help consumers gain a greater understanding of the earthquake susceptibilities of properties they are interested in buying," he added.

Use of the application is open to anyone and can be found here.  

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