California fault could cause magnitude-7.4 quake

They identified four segments of the strike-slip fault that are broken up by what geoscientists call stepovers, points where the fault is horizontally offset.

The Newport-Inglewood and Rose Canyon faults were considered separate system, but the study found they are actually one continuous fault system.

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography has re-characterized the Newport-Inglewood and Rose Canyon faults, saying that they represent a single system that could produce a magnitude 7.3 quake if their offshore segments ruptured.

The Newport/Rose fault runs offshore between San Diego Bay and Newport Beach.

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"This system is mostly offshore but never more than four miles from the San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles County coast", said Valerie Sahakian, who led the study during her doctorate at Scripps.

While the likelihood of a full rupture sits at 30-40%, lead author Valerie Sahakian, who is now a postdoctoral fellow at the USGS in Menlo Park, says that a smaller natural disaster in the magnitude 5 or 6 range could still have a significant impact on the region. The disparate data have different resolution scales and depth of penetration providing a "nested survey" of the region.

Both studies appeared in the American Geophysical Union's Journal of Geophysical Research.

A report from the U.S. Geological Survey has warned the risk of "the big one" hitting California has increased dramatically. Some researchers also have suspected that the systems were connected in some way offshore.

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Researchers found that there have been between three and five earthquakes along the northern part of the fault line in the last 11,000 years.

"One of the reasons why this location is of importance is because in Southern California, the Big Bend, Carrizo, and Mojave sections of the San Andreas Fault accommodate 50-70% of plate motion".

Even though we witnessed the San Andreas fault trigger a devastating natural disaster in Los Angeles via Hollywood magic in 2015, the last major quake in that region actually occurred in 1857.

In 1993, the same fault system hosted a 6.4-magnitude natural disaster in Long Beach, California, killing a total of 115 people. On the south end, which goes through San Diego, there is evidence a quake happened roughly 400 years ago, but there is little significant activity for the 5,000 years prior.

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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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