Southern California fault systems capable of magnitude 7.3 earthquakes

Francis Osborne
March 9, 2017

According to the study, if the offshore sections split, a magnitude-7.3 quake could be produced and up to magnitude-7.4 if the onshore segments fissure. At that time, the population of the entire state of California was less than 100,000 people.

The frightening revelation comes from a new study led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which found that the Newport-Inglewood and Rose Canyon faults are connected.

They identified four segments of the strike-slip fault that are broken up by what geoscientists call stepovers, points where the fault is horizontally offset.

A pair of quake fault lines previously believed to be of little seismic threat to Southern California have been re-evaluated by scientists, who on Tuesday said the pair actually are a single fault that is capable of even more damage than previously believed.

The Tejon Pass natural disaster in 1857 measured an estimated 7.9 magnitude and caused a ground rupture about 210 miles long, according to the study's findings.

A repeat of the 1857 natural disaster could damage aqueducts that ferry water into Southern California from the north, disrupt electric transmission lines and tear up Interstate 5, whose Grapevine section runs on top of the San Andreas fault at Tejon Pass, The Times reported. The fault runs underwater from San Diego Bay to Seal Beach in Orange County and on land through the Los Angeles basin, researchers found.

In a statement, Sahakian said, "This (fault) system is mostly offshore but never more than four miles from the San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles County coast". The disparate data have different resolution scales and depth of penetration providing a "nested survey" of the region.

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The study was led by Valerie Sahakian, who earned her doctorate at Scripps before moving to the U.S. Geological Survey as a postdoctoral fellow. Both methods yielded estimates between magnitude 6.7 and magnitude 7.3 to 7.4.

Based on data from the study, the USGS is forecasting that there is a 16 percent chance of a 7.5-magnitude or larger natural disaster occurring on this section of the fault in the next 30 years.

Southern California could be in for some serious shaking.

'But we know that tectonic forces are continually tightening the springs of the San Andreas fault system, making big quakes inevitable'. The system infamously hosted a quake of 6.4 magnitude in 1933 in Long Beach, Calif., that killed 115 people. Geological evidence of ancient earthquakes suggests that the fault has ruptured between three and five times in the past 11,000 years. We're talking about a really big quake along the southern end of the San Andreas Fault that measures magnitude 7.5 or greater. It's not the big one.

The population-dense region is also dense in wineries and breweries.

There would be waves of cargo planes, helicopters and ships, as well as tens of thousands of soldiers, emergency officials, mortuary teams, police officers, firefighters, engineers, medical personnel and other specialists. "Most appear to be quite large, between magnitude 7.0 and magnitude 7.5", Scharer said.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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