'Big One' Along The San Andreas Fault Not A Question Of If But When

Carmen Allgood

Seismologists and research physicists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have kept a watchful eye on the San Andreas Fault System for decades. The fault consists of 5 major branches that extends from the Baja peninsula 1,250 miles along the edge of the Pacific coastline of northern California. One of the most earthquake-prone areas of the San Andreas Fault lies beneath the San Francisco Bay Area.

CBS News reports that fault creep is measured by scientists to determine how much slippage occurs in the uppermost part of the earth's crust between significant earthquakes. If no fault creep has taken place then the fault is locked and strain will build up until it releases in the form of an earthquake, generally measuring 6.8 or greater.

Researchers suggest that three sections of the San Andreas Fault are near their average recurrence interval. The most current quake measuring 6.0 hit Napa, Calif. in the early hours of morning on August 24, causing millions of dollars in damage to this elite wine country community. This was the most powerful earthquake to hit the San Francisco Bay Area since the 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta quake struck in 1989, killing more than 60 people.

Yahoo! News reports that 4 sections of the San Andreas Fault have enough energy stored to produce major earthquakes. The San Andreas Fault System has the capacity to create a devastating disaster below the surface of the Bay Area where millions of people live.

The Inquisitr writes that roughly two-thirds of the San Andreas Fault features fault creep. Nearly 60% of the power unleashed in earthquakes is the result of fault creep, which is why the USGS focuses so much attention on this area of the San Andreas Fault System, where 40 miles of fault lines appear to be locked.

According to a story from the Atlantic City Lab the risk assessment of California's next big earthquake is grim indeed. The San Andreas Fault is prepared to unleash the worse-case scenario to date with endless fires, paralyzed rescue operations, and no fresh water for months.

In light of all the epic storms that have devastated most of the planet in the last 10 years, common sense dictates that preparing in advance for disasters is the way to go. Food and clean water are at the top of the list for survivalists.

Communication with family members is critical when the chips are down and catastrophe strikes without warning. Ready.gov is a site that lists all the basic necessities to help us make it through dangerous times. Surviving natural catastrophes demands that all of us engage in disaster preparedness, and for those in the path of the San Andreas Fault, being prepared now is the only way to go.

[Image Flickr/Naotake Murayama]