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Open-File Report 2008–1254

Rocky Mountain Geographic Science Center

Potential Effects of a Scenario Earthquake on the Economy of Southern California: Intraregional Commuter, Worker, and Earnings Flow Analysis

By Benson C. Sherrouse and David J. Hester


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The Multi-Hazards Demonstration Project (MHDP) is a collaboration between the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and various partners from the public and private sectors and academia, meant to improve Southern California's resiliency to natural hazards. In support of the MHDP objectives, the ShakeOut Scenario was developed. It describes a magnitude 7.8 earthquake along the southernmost 300 kilometers (200 miles) of the San Andreas Fault, identified by geoscientists as a plausible event that will cause moderate to strong shaking over much of the eight-county (Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura) Southern California region. This report uses selected data sets from the U.S. Census Bureau and the State of California's Employment Development Department to develop preliminary estimates of the number and spatial distribution of commuters who cross the San Andreas Fault and to characterize these commuters by the industries in which they work and their total earnings. This analysis concerns the relative exposure of the region's economy to the effects of the earthquake as described by the location, volume, and earnings of those commuters who work in each of the region's economic sectors. It is anticipated that damage to transportation corridors traversing the fault would lead to at least short-term disruptions in the ability of commuters to travel between their places of residence and work.

Version 1.0

Posted October 2008

For more information concerning this publication, contact:
Science Center Chief,
USGS Rocky Mountain Geographic Science Center
Box 25046, Mail Stop 516
Denver, CO 80225

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Suggested citation:

Sherrouse, B.C., and Hester, D.J., 2008, Potential effects of a scenario earthquake on the economy of Southern California—Intraregional commuter, worker, and earnings flow analysis: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1254, 12 p.



Data Sources


Commuter Fault-Crossing Estimates



Appendix 1. Total County-to-County Worker and Earnings Flows by Bureau of Economic Analysis Industrial Codes

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