Researchers Find Active Fault Line Along L.A. Coast That Could Devastate Los Angeles

Posted September 11, 2019, under Blog

A once-believed dormant Los Angeles fault was just discovered along the coast, with the capabilities of producing a massive 6.4 magnitude earthquake if ruptured.

Researchers from Harvard, the University of Southern California and the U.S. Geological Survey have been analyzing the fault line for years, discovering that if ruptured it could set off a 7 magnitude earthquake range in Southern California.

Named the Wilmington-Blind Thrust Fault, the active area stretches along 12.5 miles across the Los Angeles coastline, and runs directly beneath Huntington Beach, and the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors.

Researchers have known about the fault line for years but thought the area to be inactive until recently. In a new report, data suggests that the fault line is in fact very active, which could have devastating effects on the ports of Los Angeles if triggered.

“It doesn’t rupture frequently, but it’s like a sleeping giant beneath the harbor,” Franklin Wolfe, a doctoral student at Harvard, said about the fault line. “Just because it’s slow, doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous.”

Previous data gathered by the Wilmington Oil Fields suggested that the fault fell dormant some 2 million years ago, until deep folding was discovered in more shallow areas of the fault rock – meaning it’s been active all along.

“It makes you wonder how many other faults are in California that are not detected and slow moving,” Wolfe added. “The San Andreas fault is the most noteworthy, but many other of faults in California are capable of generating damage.”

What makes the Wilmington fault line even more dangerous is that it runs very close to another active fault line in Los Angeles, the infamous Newport-Inglewood fault.

This is the same fault line that was responsible for the 1993 earthquake in Long Beach that killed 120 people. It was this earthquake that led to the creation of the state’s first mandatory seismic building regulations.

“If you live pretty much anywhere in California, you’re at earthquake risk,” lead author Daniel Ponti of the U.S. Geological Survey explained. “We can refine that estimate a little better, but it doesn’t change the fact that you need to be prepared for a major earthquake in your area.”

Luckily, thanks to advancements in structural engineering you can decrease the likelihood of damage and destruction to your property with earthquake retrofitting.

Earthquake retrofitting is essential for protecting your property from severe earthquake damage, as the updated reinforcements will help keep your home secured to its foundation in the midst of the intense side-to-side and back-and-forth shaking that occurs during a large earthquake.

In addition to getting your home foundation or soft story structure seismically retrofitted, you should prepare an earthquake emergency kit with enough food, water, first aid and medications to last each member and pet in your household for at least three days.

Julian De La Torre is an expert in Los Angeles foundation inspection, foundation contractors, earthquake retrofitting, and foundation repair. Julian’s company, Julian Construction, has inspected over 15,000 structures, working with engineering firms and local departments of building & safety. The company has done more foundation repair and earthquake retrofitting in Los Angeles than any other company in the area over the last five years.

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