Los Angeles fault could cause 7.4-magnitude quake

Mar 11, 2017, 00:39
Los Angeles fault could cause 7.4-magnitude quake

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.

A study released Tuesday by the U.S Geological Survey warns that a 7.4-magnitude quake could strike along the San Andreas Fault - which could impact about 20 million Los Angeles and San Diego residents.

The connections - or stepovers - between the main parts of the faults are less than 2Km wide. Studies have shown that the stepovers in the Newport-Inglewood and Rose Canyon fault was measured to be two kilometers more or less.

Should a rupture, or a slip on a fault that creates enough seismic energy, occur "end-to-end" on the offshore segment of the NIRC fault zone, a 7.3 magnitude event could follow, and a 7.4 quake could result if a northern onshore section is affected.

A report published Tuesday in the Journal of Geophysical Research by scientists from UC San Diego and Scripps Institution of Oceanography stated: "the fault poses a significant hazard to coastal Southern California".

The massive fault system, which was previously considered as two separate faults, runs from San Diego Bay to Seal Beach, Orange County, and finally moves on the shore to the Los Angeles Basin.

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.

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The researchers processed data from previous seismic surveys and supplemented it with high-resolution bathymetric data gathered offshore by Scripps researchers between 2006 and 2009 and seismic surveys conducted aboard former Scripps research vessels New Horizon and Melville in 2013.

After drawing up a map of what was underneath, researchers found proof of what they'd suspected for years; the gap between the two systems was only 1 1/4 miles apart from each other, not 3 miles, as reported in the past.

The analysis revealed that eruption of the offshore segment of the system can produce an estimated 7.3-magnitude natural disaster.

The coast of Southern California and Tijuana, Mexico are highly vulnerable to the fault, the report indicated.

Though most of the fault is offshore, it's never more than 4 miles from the coastline.

The 47 mile-long Newport-Inglewood fault begins in Culver City and extends southeast to the Newport Beach area, where it heads offshore.

And, evidence of earlier quakes of an unknown size reveal the onshore portions have experienced between three and five ruptures in the last 11,000 years.