A new report from the U.S. Geological Survey brings an ominous earthquake forecast. The report indicated that residents of California can expect a greater risk of experiencing an earthquake as strong as magnitude 8.0, and a near certain risk of being shaken by another strong earthquake within the next three decades.
Tuesday’s report on the risks of earthquakes in California disclosed a 99 percent chance of experiencing a strong earthquake. The chances that California will be hit with a magnitude-6.7 earthquake (which would be similar in strength to the quake that caused the Northridge disaster in 1994) has been raised to 95 percent.
This report comes, coincidentally, as the trailer for the movie San Andreas is released to the public depicting the massive destruction that Californians could experience if the fault line ever gave way to “the big one.” This fault is the most feared of all of the faults that span through California, given that it hasn’t given way to an earthquake of such magnitude in a long time, according to KCRA News.
The newly increased risks reported by the Geological Survey are presented, because scientists have discovered that earthquakes are capable of setting off a chain reaction in faults. One fault could shake, then that earthquake could set off quakes in other faults. Consequently, according to the L.A. Times, multiple faults could all rupture at the same time and create one “mega-quake.”
“The new likelihoods are due to the inclusion of possible multi-fault ruptures, where earthquakes are no longer confined to separate, individual faults, but can occasionally rupture multiple faults simultaneously.”
Of course, anti-fracking activists find this information exceptionally troubling given the recent causal link asserted between hydraulic fracturing operations and earthquakes.
Previously, a magnitude 8.0 was expected every 617 years, but that particular earthquake forecast has now been adjusted to reflect and expected 494-year cycle. Within the next 30 years, scientists believe that there is a seven percent risk of a quake as large as magnitude 8.0 or larger. Many of the faults at risk are located right in the Los Angeles, California, area. The report added additional concerns for Californians to consider as well.
“The 2011 magnitude 9.0 Tohoku, Japan earthquake also violated previously defined fault-segment boundaries, resulting in a much larger fault-rupture area and magnitude than expected, and contributing to the deadly tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster.
As the inventory of California faults has grown over the years, it has become increasingly apparent that we are not dealing with a few well-separate faults, but with a vast interconnected fault system.”
Even more daunting, according to the lead author of the report, California’s skyscrapers, which have been built to “not even notice a small earthquake,” could be at serious risk from a larger earthquake. Tom Jordon, the director of the Southern California Earthquake Center and co-author of the California earthquake study, said that big quakes are inevitable in California.
“We are fortunate that seismic activity in California has been relatively low over the past century. But we know that tectonic forces are continually tightening the springs of the San Andreas fault system, making big quakes inevitable.”
Lead author Ned Field made a daunting assertion about California’s earthquake risk saying, “California is earthquake country… We should live every day like it could be the day of the ‘big one.’ “
[Photo via USGS]