California Mega-Quake is Possible After AllBy Michael Frank on January 11th, 2013
For decades, scientists have assumed the central portion of California’s San Andreas fault acts as a barrier that prevents a big quake in the southern part of the state from spreading to the north, and vice versa. As a result, a mega-quake that could be felt from San Diego to San Francisco was widely considered impossible. But scientists at Caltech and in Japan now think they’re wrong. They’ve simulated how that mid-fault buffer zone, long thought somewhat dormant, and only moving with tectonic plates, might be more like the rest of the fault — able to shift all at once if there’s enough stress on it. The scientists believe that just such a snap caused the 9.0-magnitude Tohoku-Oki earthquake that hit Japan in 2011 (which triggered the subsequent tsunami and the death of 16,000 people. Scientists believe they can look at the midsection of the San Andreas more closely to see if there’s a physical record of a fault slip like the one their calculations predict. Via LA Times.
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