Los Angeles fault could cause 7.4-magnitude quake

At that time, the population of the entire state of California was less than 100,000 people.

This picture from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography shows the research vessel New Horizon towing a hydrophone to map the bathymetry of the Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon fault zone. Generally, stepovers wider than three kilometers are capable of inhibiting rupture along the entire fault by containing them into the segments and creating smaller earthquakes in the process.

The study looked at data from previous and new seismic surveys that included sonar studies of the offshore fault.

If the southern onshore segment of the fault system ruptured at the same time, it could trigger a magnitude 7.4 natural disaster.

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Researchers discovered that the two faults, which had previously been considered separate, are actually one continuous fault that runs from Coronado, through Rose Canyon in University City, north to Seal Beach in Orange County and all the way through the Los Angeles basin.

"This system is mostly offshore but never more than four miles from the San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles County coast", said Valerie Sahakian, who led the study during her doctorate at Scripps.

This allowed them to generate a "nested survey" of the region, accounting for different resolution scales and depth penetration. Headed by Valerie Sahakian who now works at the US Geological Survey, the fault system at study was thought to be a separate entity from the main fault that runs through land and shore.

The analysis revealed that eruption of the offshore segment of the system can produce an estimated 7.3-magnitude quake.

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Even though we witnessed the San Andreas fault trigger a devastating natural disaster in Los Angeles via Hollywood magic in 2015, the last major quake in that region actually occurred in 1857.

The last time a major rupture of the fault took place was in Long Beach in 1933, where 115 people died in the resulting magnitude-6.4 quake. On the south end, which goes through San Diego, there is evidence a quake happened roughly 400 years ago, but there is little significant activity for the 5,000 years prior.

'Further study is warranted to improve the current understanding of hazard and potential ground shaking posed to urban coastal areas from Tijuana to Los Angeles from the NIRC fault'. The only question is how long it will be before the "Big One" strikes. Most scientists believe that stepovers at least 3 km wide are likely to prevent through-going ruptures.

There would be waves of cargo planes, helicopters and ships, as well as tens of thousands of soldiers, emergency officials, mortuary teams, police officers, firefighters, engineers, medical personnel and other specialists.

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