Scientists Warn San Andreas Fault ‘Locked, Loaded’ for Massive Earthquake
Apple| | By Jason Owen
“The springs on the San Andreas system have been wound very, very tight. And the southern San Andreas fault, in particular, looks like it’s locked, loaded and ready to go,” said Thomas Jordan, director of the SCEC, in the opening keynote talk at the National Earthquake Conference in Long Beach on Wednesday. As the Los Angeles Times reports, the southern San Andreas last experienced a major earthquake in 1857 when a magnitude 7.9 quake shook the area. If – or really, when – the southern San Andreas fault does finally shift, Jordan says the quake could easily be a magnitude 8 or stronger, according to the LA Times. Part of the reason researchers are so nervous boils down to little to no movement in over 100 years. From the LA Times: “Scientists have observed that based on the movement of tectonic plates, with the Pacific plate moving northwest of the North American plate, earthquakes should be relieving about 16 feet of accumulated plate movement every 100 years. Yet the San Andreas has not relieved stress that has been building up for more than a century.” And if the quake winds up being as big as researchers predicted, it could potentially kill thousands. In 2008, the U.S. Geological Survey released a report that determined a magnitude 7.8 earthquake on the southern San Andreas could result in nearly 2,000 deaths, 50,000 injuries, and $200 billion in damages. Now, the big questions remains: When? “We can say things like, ‘It really can happen right now,'” Mark Benthien, a spokesman for the SCEC told ATTN. “It also really might not happen for another 20 years. Mother Nature’s time scale is much different than the 24-hour news cycle.” You can watch a computer simulation of how the earthquake might play out below.