A mega-quake along the San Andreas Fault might be a real possibility, according to a new scientific study. Although scientists have not considered a major earthquake along the San Andreas reaching from San Diego to San Francisco was impossible, a new report suggests otherwise.
An important fault near the city of Paso Robles may not serve as a barrier to a major earthquake in all instances, as previously thought, according to a Nature journal report. Scientists utilized computer simulations and laboratory measurements to illustrate how “creeping” segments in fault might behave like “locked” segments, the Inland News Today notes.
According to the new study, creeping segments were thought to be benign because they slowly and steadily slip along as the tetonic plates shift. A build up of stress over time might be able to cause the creeping segments to rupture.
US Geological Survey in Pasadena geophysicist Kenneth Hudnut (who was not a part of the new study) considers the San Andreas Fault mega earthquake report a “warning message.”
Hudnut also stated that a California earthquake strong enough to blast through the allegedly unstable “midsection” of the San Andreas Fault was unlikely, according to the Los Angeles Times. The geophysicist shared his concerns that if such a mega-quake did occur, it would place unanticipated strain was placed on emergency response system.
Caltech engineer Nadia Lapusta stated that prior San Andreas Fault thinking centered around an earthquake happening at either the southern of northern sections of the fault line. She had this to say about the new study:
“This study shows that if an earthquake penetrates that creeping area in a certain way, it could rupture through it.”
A section of presumably stable fault ruptured during the Chi-Chi earthquake in Taiwan in 1999. The mega-quake was a 7.6 magnitude temblor and killed more than 2,400 people.