LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A new study by geophysicists indicates that there is a greater chance of a mega earthquake along the entire length of the San Andreas Fault.
The study published Wednesday in the Journal of Nature is based on research involving a 2011 earthquake in Japan and a 1999 tremor in Taiwan. The findings indicate that creeping sections of a major fault could suddenly and violently snap, causing major damage along the entire length of the fault.
The study contradicts what scientists have assumed for years — that a portion of San Andreas fault in the Central Valley acted as a buffer to prevent quakes occurring in the Southland from being felt in Northern California.
“The study . . . shows that every once and a while, there may be a break all the way through. And that would indicate that the whole state might be affected by the same earthquake,” Dr. Kate Hutton, Staff Seismologist at Cal Tech, told KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou.
Hutton says the study will require a lot of research to be done via computer models or by actual digging. Rock samples along the length of the San Andreas fault will also be analyzed to determine if such an event has happened in the past.
“Go out and dig trenches across the fault and try to determine what actually happened in the last, say 10,000 years, and use that as an indicator of the future,” Hutton said.
The study should have emergency preparedness workers rethinking how the state would deal with and provide relief efforts after such a quake, according to Hutton.