The "Big One," as earthquake scientists imagine it in a detailed, first-of-its-kind script, unzips California's mighty San Andreas Fault north of the Mexican border. In less than two minutes, Los Angeles and its sprawling suburbs are shaking like a bowl of jelly.
The jolt from the 7.8-magnitude temblor lasts for three minutes — 15 times longer than the disastrous 1994 Northridge quake.
Water and sewer pipes crack. Power fails. Part of major highways break. Some high-rise steel frame buildings and older concrete and brick structures collapse.