WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Researchers studied thousands of small earthquakes that occurred near the San Andreas Fault, saying that the quakes “move in a different way than expected.”
- The new data can help researchers decipher the process building up to a huge earthquake.
- The buildup of energy along the San Andreas Fault has been mounting for more than a century, leading to a ‘The Big One” that could inevitably devastate California.
Thousands of small earthquakes near the San Andreas Fault, studied by researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, displayed unexpected movement. Described as a “deep creep”, the researchers said that the quakes “move in a different way than expected.”
Studying this movement can help the University understand the process that leads up to an earthquake of substantial force.
“If we can understand how they are being loaded maybe we can understand better when these faults may be going to rupture.”
Though different from how a big earthquake along the San Andreas Fault would move, these new findings help reiterate the longstanding warnings of scientists of an overdue earthquake that could shake California.
For more than a century, energy has been building up along the fault. The director of the Southern California Earthquake Center, John Vidale, told Newsweek that the earthquake is “an inevitability”, though the scientists don’t know just when it will hit.
He also said, “Those little earthquakes let out only a tiny amount of energy compared to the big ones. It would take 10 magnitude seven earthquakes to let out the strain of a magnitude eight. We don’t have that many, so those little earthquakes hardly slow the big ones at all.”
A northern earthquake would run through San Francisco and put Los Angeles at risk as well. The impact, as described by Vidale, would be “tremendous.”
In the US, the biggest concern is the aftereffects that come after an earthquake. Aside from the cost of repairing damages, the economy could well be crippled. Recovery from such a natural disaster could take a long time.
Source: Business Insider