PASADENA ( — Scientists from academic and research institutions across Southern California offered tips to the media Tuesday on how to more accurately report on earthquakes in the region.

Officials with the California Institute of Technology, U.S. Geological Survey and Southern California Earthquake Center held the “Earthquakes 101 Media Summit” at Caltech ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Northridge quake on Jan. 17.

The summit included the latest information on earthquakes and earthquake engineering science, software and web resources for reporting on local and worldwide earthquakes, and a tour of the Caltech Seismological Laboratory and Media Center.

Media representatives also took part in “speed-dating” sessions that allowed attendees to move from table to table at five-minute intervals to converse with 15 earthquake science and engineering experts. The scientists offered an overview of their areas of expertise for future reporting or questions.

KCAL9’s Adrianna Weingold spoke with seismologist Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey about the possibility of another huge quake.

“We have not had the direct urban hit yet, and it is going to be so much worse when we have the Northridge-size earthquake down where we have our old buildings,” she said.

Jones showed Weingold what it would look like if a magnitude 6.6 temblor hit directly under Hollywood. The prediction is that more than 11,000 would be injured or dead and that it would cause more than $20 billion in damage.

“I would tell people to do two things: get more water, store more water than you already have, and get a fire extinguisher and know how to use it…those two things are the ones that scare me the most,” Jones said.

Researchers also said they’re working on an early warning system of sorts.

“It uses our seismic network to detect that the earthquake has already started. So if the quake is a little far away from the population center, which it was not in Northridge, you would be able to get some warning that the waves are already on their way,” USGS’s Kate Hutton said.

Hutton, however, said they’re still a couple of years away from a viable warning system, mostly because of funding.


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