A recent study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research says the discovery of a new earthquake fault line could rattle areas like Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego at the same time.
Scientists found that a 7.4 quake could hit southern California and would be far more powerful than the 6.4 earthquake that shook Long Beach in 1933, leaving 120 people dead.
For a quake of that magnitude to happen, it would have to hit the Newport/Inglewood fault lines and impact the nearby Rose Canyon fault.
“These two fault zones are actually one continuous fault zone,” said author Valerie Sahakian, who’s working on her doctorate at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.
While scientists originally believed there were wide spaces between the fault lines – as much as 3 miles – new data suggests the gap is much smaller, measuring less than 1 ¼ miles apart between the faults.
“That kind of characterizes it as one continuous fault zone, as opposed to two different, distinct fault systems,” Sahakian explained.
Scripps researchers spent 100+ days at sea gathering data back in 2013, finding that the entire area is one interconnected fault system.
The new data highlights the notion that a major earthquake could hit southern California coastal areas, and with a fault running along Los Angeles’ coastline, means there could be even more damage to our beach cities if a major quake happened.
“So you would see a lot of liquefaction in the coastal areas, which means there will be a lot of damage to all kinds of coastal structures or piers,” Caltech seismologist Egill Hauksson told the L.A. Times.
While this information does raise some concerns, Hauksson says the chance of a major earthquake on the Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon fault is far less than the chance of one occurring along the San Andreas fault.
“These faults are moving pretty slowly compared to the San Andreas, so the likelihood is pretty small — but it’s still there,” Hauksson said. “It’s almost like a lottery ticket. If you buy a ticket, you have some chance of winning, but it’s exceedingly small.”
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