When the “big one” hits California, the earthquake will be far worse than feared, according to a new seismic study. The scientists involved in the study believe the chances of a massive earthquake of epic proportion hitting the Sunshine State have increased dramatically.
“We are fortunate that seismic activity in California has been relatively low over the past century,” Southern California Earthquake Center Director and study co-author, Tom Jordan, said. “But we know that tectonic forces are continually tightening the springs of the San Andreas fault system, making big quakes inevitable.”
An earthquake of the magnitude feared by the scientists could send the entire state of California plunging into the ocean. The researchers analyzed all of the complex active seismic faults in the state, along with new methods for translating the results of the data, in the comprehensive new California earthquake report, according to the Daily Mail.
The chances of a “magnitude 8” earthquake or larger hitting California in the next three decades has risen from approximately 4.7 percent to 7 percent, according to the analysts at the U.S. Geological Survey.
— Blair James Stuart (@StuartMedia) March 16, 2017
If the big one hits California, the study found land surrounding major seismic faults in the state could sink by more than one foot to three feet in an instant.
The Los Angeles area scientists now reportedly believe a major California earthquake that causes a tremor through the city would be all that is necessary to sink large portions of the state into the sea nearly instantly. Los Angeles County has a population of about 10 million people.
The devastating conclusion was reached after a review of the Newport-Inglewood fault was completed. The study was focused on an area of roughly two-square-miles around the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is located near both the Rose Canyon and Newport-Inglewood fault lines.
The Newport-Inglewood fault line is thought to now be one of the most dangerous seismic zones in the southern region of the state. It runs from the densely populated neighborhoods of western Los Angeles all the way to the coastline of Orange County.
If an earthquake as powerful as the one which hit California’s San Andrea fault in March of 1857 strikes again, the ground would likely shake for up to three minutes – displacing the land of the massive state by about 20 feet, the LA Times reports.
Centuries ago massive earthquakes along this fault line caused portions of Seal Beach, in Orange County, to sink approximately three feet in mere seconds. Over the past 2,000 years, earthquakes in this area have reportedly caused the land inside the Los Angeles corporation limits to sink about three feet.
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) March 22, 2017
Should earthquakes of similar magnitudes occur today – or presumably 30 years from now, the Los Angeles and Orange County area would wind up at least at, if not below, sea level, Cal State Fullerton professor, Matt Kirby said.
“It’s something that would happen relatively instantaneously,” Kirby continued. “Probably today if it happened, you would see seawater rushing in.”
The San Andreas fault line runs almost the entire length of California and is approximately 800 miles long. Seismologists report the fault line should experience a large earthquake about every 150 years.
Kirby also acknowledged the exact frequency of major earthquakes along the California fault lines remain unclear, as does the risk the big one will happen in the near or relatively distant future.
When the San Andreas earthquake hit in 1857, and a similarly powerful quake hit Long Beach in 1933, the state was far less populated and did not have skyscrapers dotting the landscapes, or bustling highways. The Long Beach 6.3 magnitude earthquake killed 120 people and caused about one billion dollar’s worth of damage in today’s money.
Earthquake preparedness is essential to survival if the big one hits. Not only California state entities, but the federal government and the United States military have been working on an emergency plan to immediately enact should such a doomsday scenario occur in the state.
Government death toll estimates indicate between 14,000 to 30,000 people would be expected to perish if a mega earthquake hits California. The state’s economy could be set back decades, and untold thousands could immediately be rendered homeless.
[Featured Image by Isoga/Shutterstock]