Pondering when the “Big One” earthquake will shake Los Angeles and a great portion of the Pacific coastline is on the minds of many after a series of small quakes shook three different areas of Northern California on Wednesday morning in a two-and-a-half hour time span. This week has already jolted millions with earthquakes in Mexico City, Japan, and New Zealand.
SF Gate reports that the three small quakes hit Northern California. The U.S. Geological Survey recorded Shasta County at 3.8 magnitude, San Benito County at 3.2 magnitude, and Humboldt County at 3.0 magnitude. Residents in Shasta County and Humboldt County reported light shaking. The range of quakes was 340 miles between Shasta and San Benito counties.
What about the other earthquakes that are making the rounds within the “Ring of Fire” fault line that stretches around the Pacific from New Zealand to Chile through Indonesia, Japan, and California? These are the areas in which the majority of earthquakes occur.
New Zealand and the coasts of Japan experienced an earthquake registering 6.1 magnitude on Wednesday. Vanuatu was rattled by a quake registering 6.4 magnitude, and Indonesia experienced a 5.7 magnitude earthquake on early Thursday morning.
It’s believed that the big earthquakes surfacing in less than 24 hours could’ve been caused by “seismic waves traveling along fault lines and triggering ruptures,” the Daily Mail reports. Professor Phil Cummins at Geoscience Australia and the Australian National University says the waves may disturb some distant faults that are about to rupture and are only making the earthquakes occur faster than they normally would.
Does all of this signify that the “Big One” is fast approaching?
University of Melbourne’s Gary Gibson explains that the 7.1 magnitude quake in Mexico was thousands of miles away from the other seismic activities and is unlikely to have “triggered any cascade effect within the tectonic plates.” He and other seismologists do agree that a chain of other quakes near Tonga, Taiwan, and Papua New Guinea all registering at 5.0 or slightly over in magnitude on the same day was “unusual.” Gibson says the quakes happen often, but they’re not happening at random. Scientists don’t understand why that is.
— SFGate (@SFGate) September 20, 2017
USGS geophysicist John Bellini says that the earthquakes in Northern California “weren’t abnormal or an indication of something bigger in store.”
Bellini and other scientists can’t predict or forecast earthquakes. The seismic events aren’t an indication of a larger quake to come, Bellini reveals. He imparts that at times, a foreshock or two may happen, but “we don’t know they’re foreshocks until the Big One happens.”
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 21, 2017
Dr. Christopher Pluhar, a professor of Geology at Fresno State, claims the “probability of a strong quake in California in the next 30 years is around 60 percent.”
According to NBC News, when the “Big One” along the San Andreas Fault occurs at 8.0 or larger magnitude, there will be major devastation in Southern California. Experts say that it could possibly kill up to 1,800 people, injure 53,000, demolish 1,500 buildings, and inflict damage to 300,000 more buildings. The city’s water supply will be compromised and take six months to repair. While Los Angeles has spent $14 billion on seismic upgrades to transportation infrastructure like bridges and mandating building codes to withstand a quake, it’s far from being completely ready for the “Big One,” but they’re probably more prepared than many other cities.
[Featured Image by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images]