At 5:12 am on Wednesday, April 18, 1906, San Francisco was rocked by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. It was, and remains, one of the most significant earthquakes to hit San Francisco because of the damage it caused by the violent shaking and several conflagrations that were subsequently generated. Reports indicated that the shaking from the earthquake lasted approximately 60 seconds and was felt from southern Oregon to the southern end of Los Angeles, and as far inland as central Nevada. There are no official statistics of the deaths caused. However, it was estimated that more than 3,000 people lost their lives that morning, more than 225,000 lost their homes, and 28,000 buildings were structurally affected. The total estimate of the damage caused was approximately $2.7 billion. The San Andreas Fault, which gave rise to the earthquake, had a relative displacement of between 1.65 to 31.8 feet along the 296 miles of the fault. Insurance companies drove the rapid rebuilding of San Francisco with $180 million in investment. Merchants and business leaders worked tirelessly to return the city back to normal. Seismologists studied the dynamics of the San Andreas Fault system to understand the mechanics of displacements in elapsing or lateral faults.


What would have happened to San Francisco, if in 1906, Earthquake Early Warning solutions had existed as well as a developed culture of prevention?


The answer is: thousands of lives could have been saved from the fires caused by the earthquake. Earthquake Early Warning solutions would have automatically shut off gas valves and electrical power supplies. It is critical that companies, schools, governments, public places, and homes have earthquake early warning systems. These systems provide advance warnings and the tools to prepare for responses to natural disasters of such magnitude.

Leave your contact details here, and we will get in touch with more information about


USGS / Berkeley

Subscribe to our Newsletter