A 3.6 quake shakes Berkeley at 5:36 am Thursday

The epicenter of the October 27 quake was at the Cal Memorial Stadium

Update, 9:45am: If there’s one thing this series of Berkeley earthquakes is good for, it is reminding us to get prepared for the eventuality of a big one. The 72 hours website does a good job of presenting the essential information about planning for a disaster. FAQs about earthquake preparedness can be found on the USGS website. And here’s the essential list of what you should have in store.

Update, 9:17am: Wondering why quake magnitudes are often up- or down-graded soon after initial report? The first magnitude reported is usually based on a small number of recordings. As additional data are processed and become available, the magnitude and location are refined and updated. Read the full answer over at USGS.

Update, 5:48 am: The USGS has downgraded the quake from an initial 3.9 to a 3.6.


A 3.6 magnitude earthquake with its epicenter in Berkeley woke many Berkeleyans up at 5:36 am on Thursday October 27.

Acccording to the USGS, the quake was 6 miles deep and had its epicenter at the Cal Memorial Stadium, which is currently undergoing extensive remodeling and seismic retrofitting.

The tremblor comes in the wake of a cluster of quakes centered in Berkeley in recent days. A 4.0 quake rattled the city on October 20, followed by seven aftershocks over the next several days.

Print Friendly
Tagged ,
Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comments policy »
  • Woke us up here in El Cerrito for sure – well me and my husband. Our three year old is still sleeping:)

  • What a way to wake up. This one felt bigger then last weeks here in mid Berkeley.

  • Paulina

    This one felt longer. It just happens to be today that I woke up at 530 to experience this.

  • Lhasa7

    Agreed that this one seemed longer (though not as violent) as those last week. Though being more than half asleep when it happened did not facilitate clear observation.

  • Anonymous

    I’m getting sick of these quakes.

  • Bill

    I’m getting a little tired of this too.  It certainly makes me want look over our earthquake supplies.

  • chip

    I would have gone back to sleep, but then some wretched helicopter started circling around.

  • GJ

    “trembler”? Or “temblor”?

  • Anonymous

    They’re moving north by northwest

  • resident

    I know, right? New helicopters should be banned.

  • Jeanne

    I dreamed that a group of revelers trooped into my bedroom and bumped into my bed. When I woke enough to open my eyes there were no revelers. It was 5:36 AM. The only other explanation for the bed shaking prevented my falling back to sleep.

  • Jesse Townley

    Please take these smaller quakes as the impetus to check & augment your earthquake kit, or if you don’t have one- EVEN IF YOU’RE IN AN APARTMENT OR ARE A STUDENT!- get a basic kit prepared.

    It’s not a question of “if,” it’s a question of “when,” and how many of us will be prepared enough to survive.

    Here is an excellent starter list (downloads as a .pdf):
    Here is more information about in-depth preparedness, pets, emergency caches, etc:

    P.S.- The location of this tremblor highlights the major issue many of us
    have with continuing to have Cal games at Memorial Stadium in its
    current location- literally straddling the North Hayward Fault.

  • Thanks. Useful information.

  • Anonymous


  • djt

    the circling helicopter – I heard it too.  I thought it was a bad sign, perhaps a news helicopter filming fires resulting from the quake,.  Annoying!

  • Anonymous

    Yep, heard that. Boo.

  • wyn13

    My newborn baby was finally sleeping for a long stretch and then this woke hubby and me up. At least the baby slept on…

  • Rod

    Two thirds of the money spent in the stadium upgrade was put into retrofitting it against earthquakes.  Nothing on an earthquake fault line is completely safe, but it will be a lot better than before and much better than the rest of the houses along the fault line.  Check out this article for details on the retrofit, there’s a simulation that shows what would happen in the event of the “big one”

  • Anonymous

    Bill & Wilber_B :   Yes, this *is* getting old real quickly.  Enough of this.  I / we deserve to know more about just what is geologically going on at this time. In Iceland as in many other countries, this is usually a prelude to a volcanic eruption ( an extended swarm ) however here something else is going on!  Is this a small buildup to a major deadly fracture?  How about some informed and experienced analysis of these events.  Someone at UCB or the USGS might* have a provisional way to view all of this activity as it’s an inexact science at best as well as unpredictable   

  • Thanks, GJ and MFox327, for pointing out the misspelling of temblor. Instead of checking the spelling, I had mentally corrected myself and resolved to spell it the wrong way, the way berkeleyside spelled it, for the rest of my life. Good catch.

  • I actually have everything on the recommended supply list except for 14 gallons of water, which is what is recommended for one person.  I have several gallons of water, tucked along the walls of my very limited closet space. When I first moved to Berkeley, it was my plan to line the floor wall of my closet with gallons of water but I stopped around gallon #5.  I will renew my stockpiling.

    For food, I have a couple gigantic tubs of protein powder.  Simple survival. I can shake powder and water and survive, right?

    Who reading this has fourteen gallons of water on hand for each person in their household?!

  • This one felt longer to me. The ‘big’ one last week was a much harder but much brief shaker where I was (and where I am).

  • I am sincerely wondering if you intended to be funny.  Your comment is endearingly poignant to me.  I also have been thinking I am sick of all these quakes but then, after I think that, my thoughts move on to imagining the big one. My thoughts turn to imagining a six story apartment building breaking apart by only two inches by the power of the big one. Or I imagine the stadium shifting along a one or two inch ‘break’. And then I realize how puny I am, how we all are, in the face of such potential power.

    Life is so uncertain.

    How I wish I could put an end to these quakes.  If wishes were horses, eh?

  • I read these calls to know more, read your statement Iceland, that we deserve to know just what is geologically going on. Are you suggesting that scientists in Iceland know more than scientists here?  I doubt it.  I think the whole point in humans’ fear of the unknown is the unknowableness of the unknown.  Or am I missing something?

  • Whenever I read any reference to the stadium earthquake upgrade, I think of Chile.  Chile is widely considered to use the best, latest, greatest earthquake preparedness in their new construction because earthquakes are a serious concern in that South American country that straddles the coast of that continent.

    But there was a major earthquake in Chile — last year?  the year before last?  And one memory of media reports about that earthquake is a photo of a brand new apartment building, built to meet the highest possible, known earthquake-preparedness standards and the brand new building broke in two, ripped apart like it was sliced by a knife.

    Our preparedness is puny compared to the power being unleashed.  Scientists, engineers, many rofessions,  in Chile study the same data and apply the same rigorous thinking to their analysis as the great American scientists.

    If the big quake ever hits Berkeley and breaks up Memorial Stadium, I hope such a tragedy, esp. if it happens during a game, shows us humans how puny we are and shows us that we would all be much better off investing in happiness and moving football stadiums away from well known earthquake faults. The fact that UC insisted on keeping the stadium where it is reflects a critical flaw in human culture: denial.  At least, this is my humble opinion.  I know many are emotionally, culturally attached to romantic memories of the old college football stadium, giving the icon more power than we give nature in our limited human thinking.  It is so hard for humans to let go of their plans, their culturally conditioned points of view.

    Romantic is defined in many dictionaries as ‘fantasy’, fyi.

  • The water seems to be the hardest thing to store.

    I wonder if stockpiling water filtration devices would make more sense for apartment dwellers?

  • Rcroeder

    When storing water in plastic containers, never store on cement floor. The water will become contaminated. Also a water filtration is a good idea in addition to the stored water, if the water main breaks, you have no water.

  • Water is indeed one of the hardest things to gather. There are 5 people in my family, and that is… almost too much water to store. does say “Store enough water for everyone in your family to last for at least 3 days.”,  “one gallon of water per person, per day.” at a minimum but “Three gallons per person per day will give you enough to drink and for limited cooking and personal hygiene. ” 

    So for me, 5 people x 3 gallons per person x 3 days is about 45 gallons of water (11.25 quarts). And actually, we have about this much water

  • Anonymous

    Tell me more – how does plastic bottle storage on cement floors contaminate. Half our bottles are stored on wood … Half on cement.

    We don’t yet have 14 bottles per person … But plan to.


  • True, but one could always make the trek to one of the natural water sources in the area to find water they could filter. Not a perfect solution, but better than dying of dehydration.

    I wonder if it would be practical to build a solar still, or if one could use a solar oven to desalinate a sufficient quantity of water for personal use in case of emergency?

  • Anonymous

    Water’s heavy (50 gallons weighs over 400 lb) so if you store it in large containers make sure you the containers are small enough to easily move around, or or include what you need to pump it out. 

    The easiest way to purify water is with water purification tablets or chlorine bleach – make sure you include operating instructions.

    Mike & Deb, our block’s amazing leadership and research team, found “Your Safety Place” –

    Here’s the web site’s  link to Emergency Water Storage – 4, 5, 15, 30 & 55 gallon containers.  I backup my databases, photo & video to multiple drives, so might consider several smaller containers over having one large one (though our 1 gallon water bottles are already distributed throughout our house.

    Some questions I ask myself when making a decision …  and an effective cure for analysis paralysis:

    “Do I know enough to make an informed decision?” 


    “Will I regret not doing something?” (Jeff Bezos’ ‘regret minimization framework). 

    Using those guidelines we simply set out to prepare for an earthquake.  

    If we didn’t prepare, we’ll wish we had.  It’s easy and most things (other than retrofitting) are relatively inexpensive.

    I think there’s a 100% probability (within experimental error) of a large quake happening in Berkeley … and likely within my lifetime.

    With that assumption, I don’t need to know about predictions, percentages, or geology … I just need to know what I have to do .. and to do it.

    Jesse Townley said it perfectly: “It’s not a question of “if,” it’s a question of “when,” and how many of us will be prepared enough to survive.”

    Let this morning’s literal wake-up call become a figurative one ….become one of the x% who are prepared.


  • djt

    mcmaster carr is your friend for water storage.  I got two 55 gallon drums for six of us, and have two 7 gallon portable containers for convenience as well.  I think MC has them for about $80 each delivered.  Make sure you have a hose for a siphon!

  • GJ

    “tremblor”?   Or “temblor”? 
    If at first you don’t succeed…

  • Anonymous

    How to talk to your children about earthquakes: My daughter isn’t alone in her fears. Lots of kids around the Bay Area are anxious about earthquakes, and Christin Mullen, who works as a marriage and family therapist at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco, has treated many local children who can’t sleep after days like yesterday. She says this also comes up among the children, ages 7 to 11, who she sees in a weekly worry group.
    I asked Mullen to offer up tips for parents on how to talk to their kids about earthquakes:

  • Jesus is coming soon!

    The world is coming to an end shortly. Repent and turn to Jesus!!!

  • Harry

    I have 100 gals… 50 each for me and my wife.

  • Anonymous

    My friends say a lot, “I don’t have the money to get supplies.  I don’t have anywhere to put it in my studio apartment.”  I think they see the long lists of emergency supplies and links to SuperAwesomeSeriousSurvivalGear kinda sites and feel like it’s hopeless.  Emergency prep is for the rich who can afford it, right?  No, that’s not true.  Start small, be imperfect.  The next time you finish off a 2 liter of soda, fill it with water and stick it behind your couch.  Keep doing it (make sure they don’t leak).  Buy an extra can of cheap food each time you go to the grocery store.  See what you can scrounge up at Goodwill (I once found a crank radio in pristine condition at a thrift store–$5!).  Yeah, those preparations are not good enough and are far from ideal.  But it might be enough to get you through, to survive.  It is infinitely better than nothing.  So do what little things you can now, and work toward a more robust emergency kit as you are able.  

    Did you know you can make a solar cooker with little more than cardboard and aluminium foil?  Cheap, and collapsible for easy storage.  Tons of stuff like that you can do.  Take some small action for yourself.

  • Jane1010

    I have been doing this on similar lines. I keep extra boxes of cereal, peanut butter, bulgur wheat, jam, raisins, nuts, canned beans – things that we eat any way. I just make sure to use the older ones up first. That way I have extra food on hand but I haven’t bought a bunch of stuff that we will never eat. It is imperfect but doable for an apartment dweller. For water is a bit more challenging to find storage space for the required amount but I have put bottles here and there in closets and cupboards.

    It is clear that we cannot rely on the city to take care of us. They will be completely overwhelmed if large disaster strikes, especially during the school year. Pretty much everyone I know has not done enough, which means that very few people will truly be prepared and resources will be stretched very thin.

  • Anonymous

    We should start a support group, like “Disaster Preparedness for Those Who Ain’t Got Nothin’.”

  • I was overwhelmed when we moved here at the prospect of making up an earthquake kit – then I found prepacked ones at Target.
    Water is the hard one – I stock up and then my parents come to visit and drink a ton of it. I say to myself “Well I will just replace it” but I don’t replace it immediately.
    Thanks for the reminder, all – must go get water tomorrow!

  • Jesse Townley

    Thanks for that link.

    Don’t forget that the initial damage done- IF the engineers are correct in their assessment (and the magnitude of the quake is equal or less than their projected one)- is only 1 slice of a disaster.

    There is still the huge issue of 60,000 panicked/injured people spilling out into the already tightly packed neighborhood that abuts the wilderness fire zone after a major earthquake. Emergency services will have access problems based on the geography in the stadium/Panoramic Hill area, especially as tens of thousands of walking survivors try to leave (to go where?). Also,  fire is a huge danger after a major earthquake, and having the wildfire zone right there doesn’t help the situation.

    Maybe we should pave the hills immediately behind Memorial Stadium to cut down on this danger? Ha ha ha…

  • Jesse Townley

    Water heaters are- IF accessible after a quake- an important water resource.

    Also, water purification tablets (from a camping store like the one on San Pablo!) or bleach will purify water. For bleach, 3 drops for a liter/quart, 1/8 teaspoon for a gallon. Check out this handy chart from Washington State!

  • Anonymous

    Make sure the hot water heater is properly strapped (2 x 1″ straps top/bottom) to the wall and “blocked” so it doesn’t move or fall … and break a gas or water line.  

    Not sure if this has already been posted but here’s the link to the California Emergency Management Agency – Earthquake Preparedness.

    We installed two “on-demand” hot water heaters. It greatly reduced our gas usage, but now we don’t have a tank with a 40 gallon backup supply.


  • Heather W.

    My major concern has been water. I’m still waiting for the answer regarding storing water bottles on concrete, though. I always have a good supply of canned/packaged foods that can be eaten as is… not so worried about cooking (can always use the BBQ if need be). I also think being prepared for anarchy and chaos isn’t so out of bounds; look what happened in New Orleans — the city was flooded and people were still stealing TV’s out of stores… don’t know what anarchy and chaos would look like here, but it’s worthwhile to think about how you’d keep your home safe from looters. 

  • Anonymous

    There’s a good map of where this quake hit at