RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — A new study says a fault line running beneath the city of Ventura and out to sea could be much more damaging than previously thought.

Analyses shows that the Ventura-Pitas Point fault has a shape that could be capable of magnitude-8 earthquakes, and because of it runs offshore, possibly generate tsunamis, according to UC Riverside professor Gareth Funning, who worked with a team from institutions throughout the country.

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“Our models confirm that the Ventura-Pitas Point fault is a major fault that lies flat under much of the coast between Ventura and Santa Barbara,” Funning said in a statement. “This means that a potential source of large earthquakes is just a few miles beneath the ground in those cities. We would expect very strong shaking if one occurred.”

The researchers used GPS and other data to map the fault’s dimensions, which from the late 1980s to 2014 had been assumed to represent a planar configuration dipping 13 miles below the surface.

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A different geometry emerged from a study published three years ago, and Funning and his associates used some of that information to conclude that the fault may be closer to a staircase shape that slopes beneath Santa Barbara and Goleta, stretching through the Santa Barbara Channel, according to UCR.

Funning and his colleagues published their findings in the most recent edition of Geophysical Research Letters. The title of their thesis is “Mechanical Models Favor a Ramp Geometry for the Ventura-Pitas Point Fault, California.”

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