San Andreas fault line: USGS on likeliness of an earthquake
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Bill McGuire, professor of Geophysical & Climate Hazards at University College London (UCL), said he would not be surprised if a huge quake struck the US state this year as it has “been a while”. An estimated 234 earthquakes with magnitudes between 3.0 and 4.0 occur per year in California and Nevada, according to a recent three-year data sample. The latest quake was a magnitude 4.0 earthquake that was reported yesterday at 10.04am local time by the US Geological Survey (USGS).
There were no reports of injuries or damage to buildings.
But Mr McGuire warned a bigger quake could strike later this year.
He said: “It has been a while since a serious, damaging, earthquake hit California, so I would not be surprised to see one next year .
“Whether it will qualify as the ‘big one’ depends upon what you regard as a big one.
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“Worst case is a magnitude 8 quake striking the Los Angeles area, killing thousands and costing in excess of $200billion.
“This is a very rare event, so not likely to happen in 2021, but again, not impossible.”
The last time the Big One struck was in San Francisco in 1906.
The earthquake killed around 3,000 people after ripping through 296 miles (477 km) of the San Andreas fault line.
The San Andreas fault line in California is a hot spot for earthquakes, as it is where the Pacific and North American tectonic plates meet.
John Vidale, director of the Southern California Earthquake Centre, warned there is no way of predicting when exactly the so-called ‘Big One’ will hit.
He said: “When we look at the history of the fault, we can see these big earthquakes have happened many times over the last few thousand years, so yeah, it’s an inevitability.
“We just don’t know if it’s going to be now or two hundred years from now.
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“The impact of the northern Big One would be tremendous – I mean the San Andreas runs right through San Francisco. It’s quite closer to San Francisco than it is to Los Angeles.”
The San Andreas Fault in California also lies along the Ring of Fire.
The Ring of Fire is a 25,000 mile-long (40,000 km) horse-shoe shaped arc.
It stretches from the southern tip of South America to the US west coast, Japan, Southeast Asia and New Zealand.
Up to 90 percent of the World’s earthquakes take place on the Ring of Fire, according to the USGs.
There are so many earthquakes along the ring because most of the world’s fault lines lie across it.
Fault lines are gaps between different continental tectonic plates and they are constantly moving around.
When plates catch, they act elastically and cause tremors when they are freed.
They travel towards the surface of the Earth in the form of an earthquake.
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