Major Fault Strained in Ridgecrest Earthquakes, Now Capable of 8.0 Shaker

Posted October 18, 2019, under Blog

According to a new study, the large earthquakes that rattled Ridgecrest, CA this summer ruptured a number of interconnected faults which created a strain on a very large nearby fault system.

As a result, this fault – called the Garlock Fault – has begun to slowly move and is creating concern among scientists.

The original earthquakes near Ridgecrest sent shockwaves just a few miles short of the Garlock Fault. The Garlock Fault spans 185 miles east to west from the San Andreas fault all the way to Death Valley.

In the last 500 years, the Garlock Fault has remained mostly quiet … until recently when it began the process of “fault creep,” which means it’s started to slip since July.

According to new research conducted by the geophysicists from the California Institute of Technology and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and published in the Journal of Science, the Garlock Fault is believed to be capable of producing an 8.0 earthquake now.

In July, a 6.4 magnitude foreshock was followed by a 7.1 magnitude mainshock near Ridgecrest, CA. Upwards of 100,000 aftershocks were felt after the sizeable shakers.

Researchers immediately began documenting the foreshock and aftershocks, which allowed them to detect and predict many of the aftershocks with accuracy.

“I was surprised to see how much complexity there was and the number of faults that ruptured,” said Eric Fielding, who co-authored the study from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Because the Ridgecrest quakes involved 20 or so previously unknown intersecting faults, and broke faults to the right angles of each other, this particular earthquake sequence has taken scientists by surprise.

“It’s going to force people to think hard about how we quantify seismic hazard and whether our approach to defining faults needs to change,” Ross said. “We can’t just assume that the largest faults dominate the seismic hazard if many smaller faults can link up to create these major quakes.”

As a California resident, it’s important to take all the proactive measures possible.

Most older homes in Southern California are lacking the modern reinforcements necessary to protect the property from damage and/or destruction if a large quake were to occur.

It’s these same structural vulnerabilities that lead to the destruction of numerous homes and commercial buildings in and around Ridgecrest after the large quakes this summer.

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 30,000 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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