California earthquake: Scientists closer to predicting when the Big One will strike
An interesting article that discusses the increasing dangers that earthquakes and volcanoes pose to Californians. Scientists are working on ways to predict these natural catastrophes and better prepare the golden state for the difficult road ahead.
By SEAN MARTIN
California is a hotspot for seismic activity, and experts have been warning of a theoretical ‘Big One’ for some time. When the Big One strikes, it will devastate the Golden State – but scientists previously had no way of predicting when it will come. However, a new study has yielded some major results and it could be the key to forecasting a major earthquake in California.
Scientists from the Los Alamos National Laboratory have analyzed a staggering 1.8 million minor earthquakes in California – many of which were below a magnitude one on the Richter scale. The team found that a series of minor tremors preceded a “mainshock” in 72 percent of cases.
The authors wrote in the study: “Here we use a new, highly complete earthquake catalog to show that most mainshock earthquakes in southern California are preceded by elevated seismicity rates – foreshocks – in the days and weeks leading up to the event.“Many of these foreshock earthquakes are small in magnitude and hence were previously undetected by the seismic network.
Daniel Trugman, a seismologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and coauthor of the paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, said: “We are progressing toward statistical forecasts, though not actual yes or no predictions, of earthquakes. “It’s a little like the history of weather forecasting, where it has taken hundreds of years of steady progress to get where we are today.”
California is a particularly seismic region of the world, and sits upon the San Andreas Fault, the Hayward Fault and the San Jacinto Fault. Another reason why California is so earthquake-prone is that it sits upon the dreaded Ring of Fire.
The Ring of Fire is the largest and most active fault line in the world, stretching from New Zealand, around the east coast of Asia, over to Canada and the USA and all the way down to the southern tip of South America and causes more than 90 percent of the world’s earthquakes.
The plates which make up the Ring of Fire are so huge even the slightest shift results in massive tremors, volcano activity and tsunamis.
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