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Where is the safest place to be in San Francisco during an earthquake?

Todd Lappin, used under CC BY-NC 2.0 / Cropped
The Marina District and Fort Mason, San Francisco.

Brittany Bare moved to San Francisco just over a year ago. She wants to know: in the event of an earthquake, where in San Francisco is the single safest place to be?

Marina Boulevard, right by the waterfront, was seriously damaged in the last major earthquake in the Bay Area in 1989. Turns out, the Marina District is Brittany’s new home and she knows about its reputation.

"I’ve heard the Marina is the most unsafe place to be if an earthquake happened because I guess this is a former landfill and the earthquake would just cause this whole area to sink into the water."

Brittany’s sort of right about that. She’s talking about liquefaction, Peggy Hellweg at The Berkeley Seismology Lab helps explain.

"Liquefaction means the soil is very soft and very wet...it's essentially like standing on quicksand for a while."

So where is the safest place in the city? Peggy says someplace on solid ground, where no buildings can fall on you, like Crissy Field.

And, Brittany, here’s some good news, Crissy Field is just west of the Marina. Hellweg says if you can’t get there, the tops of most hills would do. But chances are if an earthquake hits, you’re stuck where you are. So the classic advice, “drop, cover and hold on” is still the number one rule to go by.

Listen to more Bay Area-related questions in theHey Area archive.