A recent seismic study by scientists of CICESE, an Ensenada-based investigatory group, determined that an earthquake measuring greater than 6 on the Richter scale would cause significant damage to Tijuana and outlying areas of the city.
A quake with an epicenter located along any of three faults that run near the city — Silver Strand fault to the west, Vallecitos fault in the southeast, and La Nación fault to the north — would result in at least 5000 lives lost and 80,000 persons injured, according to a computer model.
The principal areas of the city affected would be La Mesa, Mesa Otay, and El Centro. El Centro is the primary tourist zone of the city along Avenida Revolución and contains many seismically sensitive masonry buildings that have not been retrofitted to withstand earthquakes.
The computer model was predicated on six quake-modeling scenarios in the 6.5 Richter magnitude range, utilizing software used by the United Nations to determine earthquake risk around the globe. The modeling assumption was that the quake would occur along the fault line five miles north of the city and that 68,000 buildings would suffer damage.
The study also found that 90,000 tijuanenses would need temporary shelter and emergency care. According to seismic specialist Humberto Mendoza of CICESE, these figures represent only an approximation of what might happen and are not to be taken as exact predictions.