Geophysicists foresee that damage to California in the wake of the overdue "big one" would prove catastrophic. A large earthquake would result in fires from ruptured gas pipes and the collapse of hundreds of thousands of homes and buildings, with property losses reaching $200 billion or more. Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey show a 46% chance of California being hit by an earthquake of magnitude 7.5 or more within the next three decades.

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