8.2 Quake Predicted for Salton Sea
Last updated 6/16/2017 at 10:25am
According to 'The Weather Channel' an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.2 is likely with plenty of geological evidence of past occurrences to be found in the area. These markers foreshadow grave consequences for a region that's already on high alert for the next "Big One."
An earthquake similar to the 1906 quake that devastated San Francisco is predicted. That had an estimated magnitude of 7.8, well above the baseline of 7 that scientists consider a major earthquake.
Seismologist Lucy Jones predicts that a San Andreas earthquake beginning at the Salton Sea could be as strong as an 8.2 if it got all the way to Paso Robles.
"We think Southern California is locked and loaded, that the stresses have really built up, and when things start unleashing, they could unleash for years," U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Ned Field told Smithsonian.com in 2015.
A study published earlier this year concluded that the land on either side of the San Andreas fault has been pushing against the other at a rate of more than 1 inch per year since 1857.
“So you expect that amount of accumulation of energy will be released in the future in a large-magnitude rupture, somewhere along the San Andreas,” said USGS research geologist and study lead author Kate Scharer.
The last major earthquake near Los Angeles hit Fort Tejon in 1857 and registered a 7.9.
An 8.2 earthquake would produce far more energy than what was produced by the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima. But a bigger issue is that all of Southern California would be hit at once.
“With 300 miles of fault all going in the same earthquake, you then have everybody affected at the same time,” says Jones. “The San Andreas is the one that will produce the earthquake that’s going to cause damage in every city” in Southern California.
However, “it’s not so much about dying in the earthquake. It’s about being miserable after the earthquake and people giving up on Southern California,” says Jones.
Catastrophic damage to the region's infrastructure could take more than a year to repair, which could in turn wreck the local economy and drive people to abandon Los Angeles.
In addition, the Hayward fault in the Bay Area, which is considered the most likely to cause the next major earthquake, could be set off by a quake along the San Andreas fault, Jones said.
Earthquake experts are also worried about the region's reliance on narrow passes like the San Gorgonio, according to the Los Angeles Times. The concern is that a huge earthquake could cut Southern California off from major transportation routes and energy sources.
A project to install new seismic equipment across the West Coast as part of an earthquake early warning system is in danger of losing funding, according to President Trump’s proposed federal budget.