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There's A Slightly Better Chance That The San Andreas Fault Will Rupture This Week And End It All

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In case you missed it, several hundred minor and micro earthquakes 'swarmed' in beneath Salton Sea earlier this week. Though the swarm peaked on Monday and Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey warns that earthquake swarm does, in fact, elevate chances for a major earthquake along the San Andreas, just a few miles away from the swarm.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, chances of a major earthquake along the San Andreas are significantly elevated during the days following the early-week earthquake swarm. At its lowest, there is a 1-in-3,000 risk-chance. At it's highest, the chance is 1-in-100 (!!!).

The science is logical. Increased seismic activity in the vicinity of the San Andreas can potentially set off larger seismic events, either on the San Andreas or on another fault in the area. The higher-than-usual amount of seismic energy being discharged could trigger more events, one of which could happen to be "the big one."

"This is close enough to be in that worry zone," said seismologist Lucy Jones to the Times. "It's a part of California that the seismologists all watch."

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A major earthquake spawning from this region would likely cause widespread devastation across Southern California. Estimates developed through the California Shakeout scenarios predict that approximately 1,800 people would die in a major earthquake, matched with 50,000 injuries and more than $200 billion in damage.

Risk of 'the big one' happening this week statistically depreciates as we get farther from the earthquake swarm's peak on Monday and Tuesday. However, risk is still elevated, especially given that this section of the San Andreas hasn't ruptured since sometime around 1680. Geologists have determined the southern portion of the San Andreas—between the Salton Sea and San Luis Obisbo—historically produces a large earthquake every 150 to 200 years. It's been nearly 350 years since the last major earthquake.

The video above shows a real time simulation of what an earthquake triggered in this area of the San Andreas would look like in terms of seismic energy released. Emanating north from the Salton Sea, the shockwaves reach metro L.A. in about a minute.

Should an earthquake happen, your best bet is to duck under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on. Don't stand in the doorway, they're no safer than the rest of the building, regardless of its construction.

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