Published: Sat, March 11, 2017
Business | By Sandy Mccarthy

Fault running from San Diego to LA could cause 7.3 magnitude quake

Fault running from San Diego to LA could cause 7.3 magnitude quake

The study led by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California focused on the Rose Canyon and Newport-Inglewood faults.

A new study says an natural disaster fault running from San Diego to Los Angeles is capable of producing a magnitude-7.4 temblor that could affect some of the most densely populated areas in California.

The team identified four segments of the fault that are horizontally offset in a pattern known as stepovers. The fault is broken into four main strands separated by three so-called stepovers, or horizontal breaks that are less than 2 kilometers wide.

However, the researchers found that the stepover Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon (NIRC) fault are just about two kilometers wide or less.

The maximum potential rupture of the whole fault system was estimated between magnitude 6.7 and magnitude 7.4.

The system runs from San Diego Bay to Seal Beach in Orange County, to the Los Angeles basin.

Even a high magnitude-5 to a low magnitude-6 quake "can still have a major impact on those regions, which are some of the most densely populated in California", she said.

The researchers used data from previous seismic surveys, along with high-resolution bathymetric offshore data from Scripps research between 2006 and 2009, and seismic surveys conducted aboard former Scripps research vessels New Horizon and Melville in 2013.

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The study was published online Thursday in the Journal of Geophysical Research, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.

A report from the U.S. Geological Survey has warned the risk of "the big one" hitting California has increased dramatically.

The land on either side of the fault has been pushing against the other at a rate of more than 1 inch a year since 1857, the researchers said, accumulating energy that will be suddenly released in a major quake, when the land along the fault would move by many feet.

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. Though the fault systems are largely offshore, they're never more than 4 miles away from the shore, reports the OC Register.

The fault system hosted a 6.4-magnitude quake near Long Beach, California in 1933. The last major temblor occurred 160 years ago, a catastrophic geological event that ruptured an astonishing 185 miles of the San Andreas fault.

Southern California could be overdue for a major natural disaster along the Grapevine north of Los Angeles, according to a sobering new study by the U.S. Geological Survey. "For us, the big one is at Rose Canyon".

These contingency plans reflect deep anxiety about the potential gravity of the looming disaster: upward of 14,000 people dead in the worst-case scenarios, 30,000 injured, thousands left homeless and the region's economy setback for years, if not decades.

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