Report Shows California Fault Could Generate Magnitude-7.4 quake

Seismogram being recorded by a seismograph at the Weston Observatory in Massachusetts USA

This figure from Sahakian et al., 2017 shows the location of the Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon fault zone. A stepover is a section in between faults where they don't directly meet.

Driscoll has recently collected long sediment cores along the offshore portion of the fault to date previous ruptures along the offshore segments, but the work was not part of this study.

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

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. 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. The smaller the stepover, the more likely that a rupture of one fault will be able to jump to the next. Since the stepovers are only 1.24 miles wide at most, the team concluded that the points are not wide enough to inhibit a rupture of the entire offshore segments. This was based historical ruptures worldwide which have been shown to rupture through stepovers of this width.

'We are fortunate that seismic activity in California has been relatively low over the past century, ' said Tom Jordan, Director of the Southern California Earthquake Center and a co-author of the study.


The fault runs off shore between San Diego Bay and Newport Beach, and on land into the Los Angeles basin. Both methods yielded estimates between magnitude 6.7 and magnitude 7.3 to 7.4.

The most recent event on this fault zone was the Long Beach quake in 1933, with a magnitude of 6.4. "Even if you have a high 5 or 6 magnitude natural disaster, it can still have a major impact on those regions, which are some of the most densely populated in California", said Valerie Shakian, lead author of the study, according to International Business Times. This tremor killed 115 people.

The threat has overshadowed the danger poses by offshore faults.

The re-identified fault, which includes the Newport-Inglewood and Rose Canyon lines, runs between Los Angeles and San Diego could set off a 7.4 magnitude quake, according to a report issued Tuesday in the Journal of Geophysical Research by scientists from UC San Diego and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Therefore, further research is needed to improve the seismic hazard models for the Southern California coast.

The analysis revealed that eruption of the offshore segment of the system can produce an estimated 7.3-magnitude quake. Solid Earth, 122, doi:10.1002/2016JB013467.

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