The San Jose Fault runs through the entire campus and poses a possible danger to a number of seismically-unfit buildings at CPP.

Hidden underground, the San Jose Fault line is only acknowledged as running under the Classroom, Laboratory and Administration Building (CLA). However, the fault runs through the entire campus and if an earthquake strikes, it can affect a number of buildings that are not up to the current seismic code.

The San Jose Fault line is 18 kilometers long, runs through West Covina to Claremont and lies directly below the Cal Poly Pomona campus. The last earthquake to hit the fault was Feb. 28, 1990 with a 5.4 magnitude, but just like any other fault, the San Jose Fault line experiences small earthquakes frequently.

Professor of geography Michael Reibel said the fault line runs through a majority of the campus because it has different branches to it.

“The San Jose Fault goes all the way through campus from parking lot M, northeast to Kellogg Drive at the I-10,” Reibel said.

He said the fault splits at Building 2. Separate fault lines run to the northwest side of campus under the science buildings, Building 1 and many of the old dorms. In the southeast side, Reibel said it runs along the edge of Building 4 and Building 5, through the quad and all through Building 6, Building 13 and the CLA.

Reibel, who has been teaching at CPP for more than 20 years, said his office is located directly above the fault as well.

Fault line details taken from alumna Hannah Potter (geology, 2014) analysis of micro-earthquakes in the San Gabriel Mountains foothill region and the greater Pomona area. The San Jose Fault line poses a major risk to several buildings on the CPP campus. (Nicole Goss | The Poly Post)

At CPP, 14 buildings are listed as not currently up to today’s seismic codes, according to the California State University (CSU) Seismic Requirements.

The CSU compiles two priority lists of buildings at all CSU campuses in need of seismic upgrades. Priority list one identifies buildings and facilities that need urgent attention for seismic upgrade, and priority list two identifies buildings and facilities that need special attention for seismic upgrade but are not as urgent.

The CLA and Kellogg West are on priority list one. Many other buildings at CPP are included in the second priority list, including the Administration Building (98P), Building 5, Building 9, the Art Department and Engineering Annex (13), the Drama/Theater Department (25), the Arabian Horse Center (29), the Poultry Unit (31), the Sheep Unit (38), the Agriculture Storage Unit (50), Los Olivos Commons (70), the Manor House (111) and the Kellogg House (112).

“It should be the campus’ priority to ensure students’ safety and that the buildings are up to code,” said Vincent Ruiz, a second-year geology student. “Since California sits on the San Andreas Fault too, you’re looking at over a [possibility of a] 7.0 magnitude earthquake that can lead to many buildings collapsing and [causing] injury or death.”

Buildings are also ranked by the Division of the State Architect (DSA) based on California Existing Building Code (CEBC) requirements to assess a building’s risk to life and implied seismic damage. The rankings range from a I, implying the lowest risk to life and the lowest seismic damage, to a rank of VII, implying a dangerous risk to life and 100 percent implied seismic damageability. Buildings ranked IV and lower are desired for safety.

According to the CSU Five Year Plan, the CLA, the Administration Building (98P) and the Kellogg House (112) all have a DSA ranking of VI, imposing a severe risk to life and a 40 to 100 percent implied seismic damageability.

Building 5, Building 9 and the Art Department and Engineering Annex (13) all have a DSA ranking of V, imposing a serious risk to life and a 20 to 50 percent implied seismic damageability.

Alumna Celia Stephanie Pazos (geology, ‘14), who analyzed micro-earthquakes in the San Gabriel Mountains foothill region and the greater Pomona area, reported in 2014 that, “Computerized fault modeling estimates slip rates on the San Jose Fault to be 0.7 mm/yr on average (Meigs, Cooke, and Marshall, 2008).”

As earthquakes pose a major threat in California, the CSU established a Seismic Review Board (SRB) in 1992 to evaluate and enforce seismic building codes for all pre-existing and new buildings as well as requirements for building next to an earthquake fault.

Only four seismic projects at CPP are listed to undergo seismic renovation in the next five years, according to the CSU Five-Year Plan. These projects include the CLA, the Administration Building (98P), Building 5, and a dual renovation project of Building 9 and the Art Department and Engineering Annex (13).

“Understanding fault geometry and the spatial relationships between the Sierra Madre Fault, San Antonio Fault, Cucamonga Fault and the San Jose Fault are crucial in predicting the maximum possible rupture along these faults; if multiple segments of the fault zone rupture simultaneously, we can expect a large magnitude earthquake to occur in the region,” Pazos states in her master’s thesis.

Seismic renovations on the CLA have an estimated cost of $49,212,000 for all preliminary plans, working drawings and construction. Estimated costs for the three other seismic projects are not yet listed.

The most recent CSU Seismic Requirement Report, updated in 2018, also states that buildings should not be constructed or extended within 50 feet from an active fault. This required 50-foot distance from a fault line raises the question of how safe it is to build the new Student Services Building (SSB) right next to the San Jose Fault line, considering it’s only a walkway away from the CLA.

Bryun Bevans, senior project manager of Facilities Design and Construction said the SSB is approximately 250 to 300 feet away from the San Jose Fault line that runs under the CLA.

Although CPP lies on the San Jose Fault, the 800-mile San Andreas Fault line poses the biggest threat to CPP and all of California, as a massive earthquake of 7.5 magnitude or higher is expected to hit at any time, according to the Southern California Earthquake Data Center.

For information on how to prepare and stay safe for an earthquake, visit the Office of Emergency Management online or in person at the CLA, suite B1-35.


  • Show Comments (1)

  • Fredric

    Rather fear mongering and biased.

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