'Pacific Standard' HQ Lies Safely Outside Tsunami Inundation Zone

But new research insights about the power of the Ventura Fault might change that, along with the risks for many other structures along the Southern California coast.
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(Photo: bluesky4691/Flickr)

(Photo: bluesky4691/Flickr)

The Spanish-style building that our young but illustrious magazine inhabits in downtown Santa Barbara used to be completely protected from the terrifying potential surge of a tsunami created by local or distant earthquakes. Our office falls well outside the "tsunami inundation line," according to the the 2009 inundation map for Santa Barbara jointly created by the California Emergency Management Agency, the University of Southern California, and the California Geological Survey.

(Map: California Emergency Management Agency, the University of Southern California, the California Geological Survey, and Pacific Standard)

(Map: California Emergency Management Agency, the University of Southern California, the California Geological Survey, and Pacific Standard)

But recent research about a fault to the south is putting the safety of our building and other structures along the coast of Southern California into question. Last week, a report from the Los Angeles Times explained that the Ventura fault, which lies roughly 33 miles down the coast from us and was long thought to be relatively harmless, is now being re-evaluated by scientists. The recent findings, the Times reported, indicate that it could generate "an earthquake as large as magnitude 8 as well as severe tsunamis that until now experts didn't believe were possible from a Southern California quake."

Officials at the CGS are considering re-drawing maps like the one above based on the new insights. "If new information comes forward, we'll change the lines to make sure the communities are as safe as possible," Rick Wilson, a senior engineering geologist with the CGS, told the Times.

In the event of a large quake, the tsunami would likely form "in the Santa Barbara Channel area, and would affect the coastline ... of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, down through the Santa Monica area and further south," Tom Jordan, a USC geophysicist and the director of the Southern California Earthquake Center, told the Times.

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