To Los Angeles fault could produce 7.3 natural disaster

RELATEDSan Andreas fault is about to crack – here's what will happen when it does

Scientists uncovered a newly identified fault line that could unleash a magnitude-7.4 natural disaster in the region, which other researchers say is already long overdue for a whopper of a temblor along the infamous San Andreas fault.

Up until now the Salton trough fault (STF) managed to remain hidden, despite how well-surveyed and seismically active the state of California is, because it is underwater.

The Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon fault zone exhibits a mainly continuous fault trace over four distinct segments.

Led by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, the study found that faults in Newport-Inglewood and Rose Canyon, earlier thought to be two separate faults, were actually part of the same fault system that runs both on land and offshore, from San Diego Bay to Seal Beach, Orange County, and then moving on shore to the Los Angeles Basin.

The work revealed that four segments of the strike-slip fault are broken up by "stepovers" - or, points where the fault is horizontally offset. The below map shows the wineries and breweries that would be most impacted by an quake.

The two methods used to derive the maximum potential for a rupture of the entire fault found estimates between magnitude 6.7 and magnitude 7.3 to 7.4 quakes, according to the study.

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. The disparate data have different resolution scales and depth of penetration providing a "nested survey" of the region.




The study, "Seismic constraints on the architecture of the Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon fault: Implications for the length and magnitude of future natural disaster ruptures", appears in the American Geophysical Union's Journal of Geophysical Research.

The study was led by Valerie Sahakian, who earned her doctorate at Scripps before moving to the U.S. Geological Survey as a postdoctoral fellow.

As the Times notes, the USGS has already run simulations of a 7.8 magnitude quake striking Southern California, and the results are just short of apocalyptic.

Based on data from the study, the USGS is forecasting that there is a 16 percent chance of a 7.5-magnitude or larger quake occurring on this section of the fault in the next 30 years. Southern California Edison funded the research at the direction of the California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission.

There is a significant fault between San Diego and Los Angeles that could be the cause of a magnitude 7.4 natural disaster in California.

The last time a major rupture of the fault took place was in Long Beach in 1933, where 115 people died in the resulting magnitude-6.4 quake. Geological evidence of ancient earthquakes suggests that the fault has ruptured between three and five times in the past 11,000 years. The last major temblor occurred 160 years ago, ruptuting 185 miles of the San Andreas fault.

'Further study is warranted to improve the current understanding of hazard and potential ground shaking posed to urban coastal areas from Tijuana to Los Angeles from the NIRC fault'.

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