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USGS experts predict when a 7.5 magnitude quake could hit the Bay Area after the 5.1 quake that struck near San Jose


SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) — Emergency alerts were sent seconds before the 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit east San Jose on Tuesday. Do you have one?

The state rolled out an app called MyShake in 2019 to notify people with an alert on their cellphones before the ground began to shake. Professor Richard Allen is director of the UC Berkeley Seismology Laboratory where the app was developed.

MAIN STORY: Strongest earthquake to hit the Bay Area in 8 years hits near San Jose

“We’ll be looking pretty carefully at the feedback we get from people,” Allen said. “Are we alerting the right group of people? Do we need to alert a wider area?”

The warnings are managed by a system operated by the US Geological Survey and the California Dept. of Emergency Services. Allen says the technology has been in the works for more than a decade, but has only been on the market for a few years.

“A magnitude 5 earthquake is not a huge earthquake, we don’t expect much damage, if at all,” Allen said. “We have to be ready for earthquakes much bigger than this one.”

VIDEO: Aftershocks as strong as 4.0 possible after 5.1 San Jose earthquake, says Dr. Lucy Jones

So what are the chances of a larger earthquake hitting the Bay Area? And how bad could that be?

“This is a real threat that we all need to be prepared for,” said USGS scientist and earthquake consultant Ross Stein. “We are still worried about the possibility of a magnitude 7 earthquake.”

Stein explains the 5.1 magnitude quake that struck along the Calaveras Fault – one of the most “deadly” faults on Tuesday. He says much of the Bay Area could be most at risk.

“The Calaveras Fault connects to the Hayward Fault, creating a very long fault that, if ruptured together, could create a magnitude 7.5 earthquake,” Stein said. “Occurring in the most populated corridor in the Bay Area…from Oakland, to Hayward, to San Jose, to Morgan Hill.”

VIDEO: Cal students were taking an earthquake exam when 5.1 tremors hit near SJ

RELATED: California Unveils First Statewide Earthquake Early Warning System

The Bay Area has been a training ground for earthquake warning systems. Stein says the best recorded alert is around 10 seconds.

“Can we create a system that gives us more than 10 seconds? Probably not. Because for the shaking to be really strong, it has to be very close. relative to our ability to identify this wave,” Stein said.

But USGS scientists said new research is being done to advance this.

“In which we are not just using seismometers in the ground that are dedicated to early warning of earthquakes, but everyone’s cell phones. There will always be more cell phones in the San Andreas Fault than seismometers. And we can harness them in the network to ultimately create a more powerful warning,” Stein said.

The speed and accuracy of these alerts will be crucial for the next big earthquake. To put things into perspective, the shaking is ten times stronger with a magnitude 6 earthquake and 100 times stronger with a magnitude 7 earthquake, according to UC Berkeley scientists.

Click here for the latest earthquake stories and videos here in the Bay Area and around the world, and click here for more information on disaster preparedness.

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