California Earthquakes: San Diego-Los Angeles Fault Could Cause 7.4-Magnitude Temblor

Seismogram being recorded by a seismograph at the Weston Observatory in Massachusetts USA

This figure from Sahakian et al., 2017 shows the location of the Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon fault zone. The Scripps study is the first to formally identify the two sections as being a single fault.

The connections - or stepovers - between the main parts of the faults are less than 2Km wide. Both faults are capable of producing catastrophic quakes in heavily populated Southern California.

"Further study is warranted to improve the current understanding of hazard and potential ground shaking posed to urban coastal areas from Tijuana to Los Angeles from the NIRC fault", the study concludes.

Seismologists in California have discovered evidence of a new fault line that runs along the eastern edge of the inland Salton Sea, parallel to the infamous San Andreas fault (SSAF), according to research published this week.

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According to the 53 pages study, researchers used two methods to reach these conclusions about the possibility of a big natural disaster in California. The small size of the three stepovers that link four main parts of the Newport-Inglewood and Rose Canyon fault system make them unlikely to be able to stop an quake spreading throughout the whole system. Most scientists believe that stepovers at least 3 km wide are likely to prevent through-going ruptures. Southern California Edison funded the research at the direction of the California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission.

The Newport-Inglewood and Rose Canyon faults had been considered separate systems but the study shows that they are actually one continuous fault system running from San Diego Bay to Seal Beach in Orange County, then on land through the Los Angeles basin.

As the Times notes, the USGS has already run simulations of a 7.8 magnitude quake striking Southern California, and the results are just short of apocalyptic.

The last major natural disaster on the Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon fault was the 1933 magnitude 6.4 quake in Long Beach, which killed 115 people and spurred changes in, among other things, school construction.

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Even a high magnitude-5 to a low magnitude-6 quake "can still have a major impact on those regions, which are some of the most densely populated in California", she said. This tremor killed 115 people.

Overall, this new study provides additional evidence showing the risk offshore faults pose to Southern California.

San Diego - A recent study of the Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) shows that there is a significant fault between San Diego and Los Angeles that could be the cause of a magnitude 7.4 natural disaster in California.

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