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A New Fault Next To The San Andreas Was Just Discovered

newfault.jpg
The new fault is shown in red. The solid lines represent where seismologists think they directly imaged the fault, and dashed lines show where they are inferring its location or existence. (Courtesy of Valerie Sahakian)
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Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water—and by water we obviously mean your non-earthquake retrofitted apartment—seismologists have found a new, potentially significant fault running parallel to the San Andreas. Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography announced the discovery of the Salton Trough Fault on Tuesday. The news comes a week after a swarm of 200 earthquakes shook the Salton Sea area, triggering an earthquake advisory (lifted yesterday) and fears that The Big One was nigh.

The newly mapped Salton Trough Fault lies along the eastern edge of the Salton Sea, just west of the San Andreas Fault. Valerie Sahakian, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey's Earthquake Science Center and the study's lead author, told LAist that it hadn't been previously discovered because of its location beneath the Salton Sea. According to Sahakian, the new fault does not seem to be related to last week's earthquake swarm.

Sahakian said that her group hadn't yet completed any models or quantitative studies about how the newly mapped fault could affect a major earthquake on the San Andreas. What should be looked into, she said, is "if there is an earthquake on either the San Andreas, or this fault, or another one in the sea, then what is the impact on the surrounding faults in terms of the stress change? If they experience a significant increase in stress, then it's possible they'll be more likely to have an earthquake sooner rather than later. But we haven't done any studies on that yet."

In the meantime, we would recommend making peace with your eventual demise and/or taking the steps to be prepared when The Big One hits. Michael Norman, a salesman at The Supply Sergeant in Burbank, told us that over the past week "a larger than normal" number of customers had visited the Army surplus store to buy emergency supplies.

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And for those who are really looking to get prepared, we called Forest Lawn to see if they were offering any deals on cemetery plots in light of the now lifted risk advisory, and general citywide earthquake fear. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case. "No, we don't do deals at all," a Forest Lawn employee told us over the phone, adding that they inter about 14 people a day at their Hollywood Hills facility alone. "We sell [plots] all the time, we don't need to do any deals."

Related: How To Make Sure You Are Ready And Safe In Case A Major Earthquake Hits