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'The Big One' Might Hit Sooner Than We Thought
The risk of "The Big One" hitting California has actually increased, but that doesn't mean it's time to panic.According to a new forecast by the U.S. Geological Survey, the risk of an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 or greater hitting the state in the next thirty years from 4.7% to 7.0%. Or once every 494 years instead of 617, says the L.A. Times.
Alternately, the risk of moderate earthquakes around 6.7 (like the 1994 Northridge earthquake) has dropped 30%, or one every 6.3 years instead of 4.8 years. Even though the forecast models have changed, experts say this shouldn't change how we prepare.
.@Jdlazo @USGS This new science doesn't change the bottom line for emergency managers. Which one happens in our lifetimes is a random subset— Dr. Lucy Jones (@DrLucyJones) March 10, 2015
In other words: we should remain prepared no matter what. "We know that tectonic forces are continually tightening the springs of the San Andreas fault system, making big quakes inevitable," said Tom Jordan, Director of the Southern California Earthquake Center.
The new data comes as a result of more understanding of the complex system of faults that run through California, including the San Andreas fault. "The new likelihoods are due to the inclusion of possible multi-fault ruptures, where earthquakes are no longer confined to separate, individual faults, but can occasionally rupture multiple faults simultaneously," said study lead author Ned Field. In other words, one earthquake in a particular fault system can leave an effect on another fault system.
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