Rose Canyon Fault In San Diego Could Spark Massive Earthquake That Would ‘Liquefy’ The Ground

The Rose Canyon Fault in San Diego could be far more dangerous than scientists previously thought. It could trigger an intense and enormous earthquake that would “liquefy” the ground.

The Rose Canyon Fault line is believed to provoke tremors measuring up to 6.8 on the Richter Scale every 700 years. Previously, seismologists thought the San Diego fault would only produce such powerful and doomsday level earthquake tremors every 1,000 to 1,500 years.

The fault line stretches for nearly 40 miles. It encompasses the San Diego Bay area in the south and then maneuvers offshore to La Jolla before veering as far north as Oceanside, California.

“A powerful quake in the mid-to-upper 6s could cause liquefaction around San Diego and Mission bays and locally in Mission Valley, and cause the land to be offset across the fault, which would damage buildings,” seismologist Tom Rockwell said when detailing the magnitude of an earthquake along the Rose Canyon Fault, during an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

San Diego State University scientific researchers have been digging in the Old Town area of the city to discover more about the powerful and potentially hugely destructive Rose Canyon Fault. If the fault line and the nearby Newport-Inglewood Fault trigger an earthquake at the same time, the magnitude of the tremors could reach a 7.4 magnitude.

A research report by the San Diego State University team released earlier this year revealed the Rose Canyon Fault and the Newport-Inglewood Fault are not two separate line systems are scientists previously thought. Their findings also stated an 1862 earthquake along the San Diego area fault lines registered a magnitude six on the Richter Scale. The researchers used layers of soil samples from a dig at the site to analyze the impact of the prior earthquake.

After analyzing evidence recovered from the Rose Canyon Fault line dig, the university researchers were able to conclude two other earthquakes in the magnitude five and six range also happened in the region over the centuries, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

California is now 77.5 percent of the way through its current geological cycle, meaning a major earthquake is due to happen sometime in the next several years. Over the course of history, earthquakes have been almost impossible to forecast. A new prediction method unveiled late last month could determine the status of the fault system in the United States and reveal which line could be primed for an earthquake.

University of California researchers developed the earthquake predicting method dubbed “nowcasting.” The detection system allows seismologists to calculate the risk to cities hit by earthquakes. The patterns of devastating earthquakes can occur with some type of regularity, with smaller tremors happening in between deadly quakes, according to the scientific researchers.

Being able to calculate the number of small earthquakes that occurred in between powerful earthquakes makes the scientists believe they can determine which fault line cycle each city likely to be hit by a tremor is in.

Small earthquakes generate additional stress on the tectonic plates and prompt large earthquakes to occur to release the energy churned up by the less powerful tremors along fault lines, the Daily Mail reports.

The strength and make-up of tectonic plates vary greatly, and the differences were taken into account by the researchers involved in the nowcasting system. The magnitude of an earthquake depends upon the amount of stress that has amassed in the rock. Tectonic plates under the San Andreas Fault in California are less resilient than the fault lines under Tokyo. The Japanese fault line system is reportedly 90 percent through its current cycle, meaning a massive earthquake could soon hit the city.

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