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Experts Say ‘The Big One’ Will Be Even Bigger

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A report in the August issue of Geology by researchers at UC Irvine and Arizona State University suggest the fault is long overdue for a major quake — running from Monterey County to the Salton Sea, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The last major rupture on the San Andreas was in 1857.

Until recently, experts believed that the section of the fault through the Carrizo Plain, located approximately 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles, would remain dormant for at least another century.

Not according to the latest research.

“The next earthquake could be sooner than later,” said Lisa Grant Ludwig of UC Irvine, who helped write the study.

U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones, who was not involved in the study, said it was possible that the entire southern San Andreas fault could rupture.

Thomas Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center, calculated that would produce a magnitude-8.1 quake. Jones said that figure sounds about right.

The northern section of the fault, which begins north of Parkfield and ends in San Benito County, tends to move at a constant creep. And because stress is relieved regularly, large quakes don’t occur there, The Times reported.

Grant Ludwig, who also helped write the study, said an earthquake running the length of the southern section is not assured, but “a possibility that should be considered and previously was not.”

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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