This week, seismologists announced the discovery of a new fault line that connects known faults that run continuously from Los Angeles to San Diego. The discovery of the so-called missing links, now makes it highly likely that a major slippage event could effect Southern California from the L.A basin all the way to the Mexican border.
The experts say that such an event would likely be in the area of a major 7.4 quake and do billions of dollars of damage to the area. They estimate, that such an earthquake would be 30 times more powerful than the magnitude 6.4 Long Beach quake in 1933, which killed 120 people.
While such an even would be less likely than individual quakes in the area, the discovery of the new fault makes such an event “very likely.” For a 7.4 earthquake to set off such an event, the initial quake would not only have to again rupture the Newport-Inglewood fault in Los Angeles and Orange counties. It would also have to set off the adjacent Rose Canyon fault system, which runs all the way through downtown San Diego. That fault line has been very stable in the past and is long overdue for slippage, it has not ruptured since roughly 1650.
The simotainious slippage is not as unlikely as you might think. “These two fault zones are actually one continuous fault zone,” said Valerie Sahakian, the study’s lead author, who wrote it while working on her doctorate at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Sahakian is now a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
“That kind of characterizes it as one continuous fault zone, as opposed to two different, distinct fault systems,” Sahakian said, making it far easier for an earthquake to keep shaking land as it races down a longer fault, widening the seismic reach of the temblor.
There is one possible bright spot in the study. The chance of a major temblor on the Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon fault is less than a temblor on the southern San Andreas fault, which runs further inland through mountains, valleys and desert. That’s because the land on either side of the southern San Andreas is moving fast, pushing against the other at a rate of more than 1 inch a year. The fault is accumulating energy that will be suddenly released in a major earthquake some day.
The good news for Conservative America is that the northern end of the Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon fault zone is near the northwestern border of Beverly Hills and the Westside of Los Angeles. The fault resumes its path under dry land through the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, and continues through downtown and Coronado.