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California’s Big One

MiscellanyFor reasons entirely unrelated to a recent NBC made-for-TV movie, I got to thinking over the weekend that California may be due for another big quake. It has been quite a while since Northridge shook, and it just seems that a long period of little activity is never a good thing with earthquakes.

Now it appears my thoughts may have been justified. A researcher at UCSD indicates that SoCal may be ready to rumble.

[T]he fault has been stressed to a level where it could unleash an earthquake with a magnitude of seven or greater… The fault-slip rate, or pace of the plate movement at the fault, is about one inch per year. But pressure buildup indicates that the southern region of the fault has accumulated 6 to 8 meters of slip deficit–that is, movement that should have occurred but hasn’t because the plates have temporarily become stuck against each other–which inevitably will be released in future earthquakes.

If the accumulated deficit were released in a single event, it would result in an earthquake about the same size as the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Such a quake would affect many of the coastal cities in southern California.

Apparently there’s still no concern that the folks in LA will be surfing to Wichita, but something tells me a 7+ earthquake would still get blamed on Arnold.

Written by Michael Turk