Scientists Warn Of Possible ‘Earthquake Chain Reaction’ That Could Devastate Los Angeles

A screen shows an earthquake simulation in california
David McNew / Getty Images

Researchers studying when the San Andreas Fault — a region that surrounds nearly 13 million people who live in the Los Angeles metro area — may have stumbled upon the terrifying possibility of an “earthquake chain reaction.”

According to Live Science, researchers at Temblor, a company that models and assesses earthquake risks, came across the prospect when they looked at the risks surrounding Los Angeles. The city is in a precarious position, located where the Pacific Plate grinds against the North American tectonic plate.

Though the team behind the study explained that it was difficult, if not impossible, to predict seismic activity along the San Andreas Fault, they noted that two other faults located nearby could trigger activity because the San Andreas Fault is part of what scientists called a “Z” shape of faults.

The top of the “Z” is comprised of the Ridgecrest Fault, which sits at east of the Sierra Nevadsa and runs nearly parallel to the state’s pacific coast. The long middle part of the “Z” is the Garlock Fault, which extends across the state. Last but not least, the bottom segment of the “Z” is the San Andreas.

Since all of the faults are inter-connected, a quake in one could trigger events in the others. For example, if the Ridgecrest Fault suffered a magnitude 7.5 tremor, it would spark one in the Garlock Fault, which could in turn cause another one at the San Andreas fault.

Since the Garlock Fault is the central piece between the other two, an event there could be even more disastrous. For example, scientists calculated that, should the region have an issue, it would raise the possibility of a San Andreas quake by a factor of 150.

a scientist looking at a san andreas earthquake simulator
  David McNew / Getty Images

The Temblor team claimed the odds of such an event are low but warned that years of stress on the lines would only make the progression more likely.

“What we are describing isn’t likely and it’s a kind of an earthquake chain reaction,” explained study co-author Ross Stein to Live Science.

“But what we’ve learned over the last four months is chain reactions really do happen in nature. And if we are unprepared, as we were in COVID, they have enormous consequences,” he added.

California is not the only state to suffer from the serious geological event. As was previously reported by The Inquisitr, Utah was struck by a 5.7 magnitude quake earlier this spring. Several laboratories needed for coronavirus tested were damaged during the incident.