LOS ANGELES – A swarm of earthquakes that rattled the Salton Sea area earlier this week has increased the probability of a major quake hitting Southern California, CBS Los Angeles reports.
The California Office of Emergency Services (OES) issued an earthquake advisory warning residents and officials in Ventura, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, Los Angeles, Kern and Imperial counties that there was a greater possibility of a major earthquake through Oct. 4.
More than 140 seismic events have been recorded near Bombay Beach along the Salton Sea – a lake that sits on the San Andreas fault northeast of San Diego – beginning Monday and ranging from magnitude 1.4 to 4.3, according to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) seismologists. [MSN]
For seismologists, these quakes could represent some seriously bad news. The swarm is located near a set of cross-faults that are connected to the southernmost end of the San Andreas Fault. Troublingly, some of these cross-faults could be adding stress to the San Andreas Fault when they shift and grind deep underground. Given this region’s history of major earthquakes, it’s got some people a bit nervous.
A big fear is that the rupturing of the southern portion of the San Andreas fault could cause a domino effect along the entire stretch, cracking the fault from Imperial County through to Los Angeles County. Another possibility is that the Salton Sea swarm could cause the nearby San Jacinto fault system to rupture, which would in turn trigger the collapse of the San Andreas Fault.
Should the Big One hit, it won’t be pretty. Models predict a quake across the southern half of California with a magnitude around 7.8. Such a quake would cause an estimated 1,800 deaths, 50,000 injuries, and over $200 billion in damage. [Gizmodo]