OK, The Less Threatening Part Of The San Andreas Fault Could Still Cause A Big Earthquake. But Don't Panic!
New evidence shows that a relatively mild midsection of the San Andreas fault may not stay that way. Of course, we turned to Lucy Jones, a noted Southern California seismologist, for her take.
She basically told us, no need to panic.
The middle of the San Andreas isn't known for big, destructive earthquakes, like the big ones that hit farther north on the fault in 1906 and 1989. Now a study recently published in the Journal of Geology warns that the midsection has produced many big quakes in the past, some measuring 6.8 magnitudes or greater.
Jones, however, says that scenario is unlikely because the midsection isn't locked up and storing as much energy as other parts of the fault.
"To have that big earthquake with lots of slip, you have to have stored slip there," Jones said.
[In case you want to understand that concept more, here's a link to Jones's podcast on it.]
The study also notes that the last time a big quake hit the middle of the San Andreas was about 2,000 years ago. Since then, smaller temblors have been more common in the area.
Jones says that releases pressure and lowers the likelihood of "the Big One" happening...at least, along that part of the fault.
Like California itself, the 800-mile fault line is a complicated place.
We don't want to scare you, but the Big One is coming. We don't know when, but we know it'll be at least 44 times stronger than Northridge and 11 times stronger than the Ridgecrest quakes in 2019. To help you get prepared, we've compiled a handy reading list
- Your Guide To Surviving The Big One
- For Earthquakes, Forget The 'Go-Bag.' Here's How To Prepare
- How To Not Get Life-Threatening Diarrhea After A Major Earthquake
- 10 Earthquake-Related Questions To Ask Your Landlord Immediately
- How To Prepare For An Earthquake If You Have A Disability
- Listen to our Podcast The Big One: Your Survival Guide