Media Advisory: Is California at risk like Japan?

ATTENTION: News editors and producers, science reporters


A special panel discussion, “Earthquakes, tsunamis, and nuclear fallout: Is California at risk like Japan?“ at the University of California, Berkeley. The discussion by UC Berkeley and Bay Area experts will address the implications for California of the recent calamity in Japan.


  • Roland Burgmann, professor and chair of earth and planetary science, UC Berkeley
  • Doug Dreger, professor of earth and planetary science, UC Berkeley
  • Eric Geist, geophysicist and tsunami expert, U.S. Geological Survey’s Pacific Coastal & Marine Science Center
  • Stephen Mahin, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director, Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Center
  • Norman Abrahamson, adjunct professor of civil and environmental engineering, UC Berkeley
  • Per Peterson, professor and chair of nuclear engineering, UC Berkeley


5:30 – 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 29


Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall, UC Berkeley. (see map for directions). The discussion will also be webcast via mms://


In light of the recent devastation in Japan caused by a 9.0 earthquake, a 30-foot tsunami and a near nuclear meltdown, UC Berkeley faculty and experts from the U.S.G.S. and PG&E will consider whether California faces similar risks. Like Japan, California sits on the “Ring of Fire,” the boundary of the Pacific Plate whose potential for seismic activity poses a serious threat to populated areas. But how big is the risk to California in particular?

A panel of experts will give their perspectives on this broad question as it pertains to the potential for damaging earthquakes in California, the potential for damage from local and distant tsunamis, the ability of our buildings and infrastructure to withstand these forces of nature, and the potential for the spread of radioactive fallout if a damaged nuclear power plant were to suffer a full or partial meltdown.

The panel discussion is sponsored by the Berkeley Institute of the Environment, College of Letters and Science, Department of Earth & Planetary Science, Berkeley Seismological Laboratory and PEER.

NOTE: Media interested in attending should contact Peggy Hellweg, (510) 643-9449,, or Robert Sanders, (510) 643-6998,, to reserve a seat.