Movement in a California seismic fault detected that had been inactive for 500 years

The activity of this geological fracture could cause a destructive 8.0 earthquake on the Richter scale. Recently a movement was detected in a California seismic fault detected that had been inactive for 500 years.

California seismic fault

In early July there were several tremors in southern California, two of them with a magnitude of 6.4 and 7.1 respectively, the strongest in the region in decades.

Now, a team of researchers from the California Institute of Technology and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory discovered that these earthquakes destabilized the Garlock fault, a large geological fracture that is connected to the giant San Andres fault.(California seismic fault )

The analysis of satellite data and seismometers showed that in that series of telluric movements about 20 small faults connected to each other and previously unknown were involved. 

A sequence of domino-type ruptures collectively dubbed the “Ridgecrest sequence,” which increased pressure on Garlock’s failure and “woke her up.”

The complexity of geological faults

“I was surprised to see how much complexity there was and how many failures were broken,” said Eric Fielding, co-author of the study published in the journal Science.

«The finding refutes the common assumption of how major earthquakes occur. 

Previously, scientists thought that those over 7.0 were caused by the fracture of a single fault and that its maximum magnitude was limited to its extent. 

However, the Ridgecrest sequence shows us an alternative scenario: small failures can “link” in an intricate network and unleash powerful earthquakes, ”explained lead author Zachary Ross.

As the study concludes, the Garlock fault, about 300 kilometers long and capable of triggering an earthquake near 8 points on the Richter scale, had remained relatively calm for the past 500 years, but now it has started to slide slowly, and since July it has moved up to 2 centimeters.

Content Source: Live Science

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