Currently, it is NOT possible to exactly
predict when an earthquake will hit a specific
location. However, we can estimate how
FREQUENTLY large earthquakes occur. For
example, we can determine how frequently major
earthquakes happen by looking at historic
(recorded) events have taken place near Santa
The last 6.0 magnitude earthquake to hit Santa
Barbara was in 1925. We call it the 1925 Santa
Barbara Earthquake. It was a magnitude 6.3 and
destroyed most of the buildings in downtown Santa
Barbara. There was so much destruction because
the buildings were not properly built to stand
against a strong earthquake. Today, most
buildings in southern California are built (or
re-built) to withstand the intense shaking of
Other earthquakes in Santa Barbara include the
magnitude 7.5 earthquake in 1812 and the magnitude
6 earthquake in 1883. There was a magnitude 5.5
earthquake in 1941 that struck near Carpinteria.
Also, there was a magnitude 5.1 earthquake in 1978
that hit close to Santa Barbara.
This means there were at least five major
earthquakes between 1812 and 1978 (which is a time
span of 166 years). You simply divide to get the
average time between each major earthquake: 166 /
5 = 33.2 years between each earthquake. It
means we have a large earthquake in Santa Barbara
about every 33 years on average.
It has been 38 years since the last large
earthquake in 1978, so Santa Barbara might be
overdue for another large earthquake.
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