Newly identified fault could set off 7.4 natural disaster in Southern California

Newly identified fault could set off 7.4 natural disaster in Southern California”

The study led by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California focused on the Rose Canyon and Newport-Inglewood faults.

A powerful fault system that runs from San Diego to Los Angeles could produce a magnitude 7.3 to 7.4 natural disaster if the segments rupture, according to an analysis led by researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego (UCSD).

The team identified four segments of the fault that are horizontally offset in a pattern known as stepovers.

That puts the Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon fault more on par with the famous San Andreas fault in terms of predicted quake strength.

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By looking through data from previous and new seismic surveys, including bathymetric data gathered offshore, the researchers estimated that the fault could cause up to a magnitude-7.3 quake if the offshore segments rupture and a magnitude-7.4 quake if that rift extends onshore.

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.

These areas are now tagged as potential hazards despite the fault being on offshore because of its significant distance of no more than four miles from San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles County coast.

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 quake in the magnitude 5 or 6 range could still have a significant impact on the region.

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This allowed them to generate a "nested survey" of the region, accounting for different resolution scales and depth penetration.

The claim was made in a new study that Scripps - which is part of UC San Diego - published this week in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

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. If such rapture occurred, the researchers warned that it could create magnitude 7.3 earthquakes.

"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". A stepover is a section in between faults where they don't directly meet. The 1933 Long Beach quake at the fault was magnitude 6.4, killing 115 people.

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