A serious obstacle facing seismic hazard assessment in southern California has been the characterization of earthquake potential in areas far from known major faults where historical seismicity and paleoseismic data are sparse. This article attempts to fill the voids in earthquake statistics by generating “master model” maps of seismic hazard that blend information from geology, paleoseismology, space geodesy, observational seismology, and synthetic seismicity. The current model suggests that about 40% of the seismic moment release in southern California could occur in widely scattered areas away from the principal faults. As a result, over a 30-yr period, nearly all of the region from the Pacific Ocean to 50 km east of the San Andreas Fault has a greater than 50/50 chance of experiencing moderate shaking of 0.1 g or greater, and about a 1 in 20 chance of suffering levels exceeding 0.3 g. For most of the residents of southern California, thelion's share of hazard from moderate earthquake shaking over a 30-yr period derives from smaller, closer, more frequent earthquakes in the magnitude range (5 ≦ M ≦ 7) rather than from large San Andreas ruptures, whatever their likelihood.

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