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Upcoming Earthquakes?

Jul 13, 2009
By Lindsey Schneider


 San Andreas fault
The San Andreas fault, as seen from space. Photo courtesy of NASA/Newscom

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have been monitoring seismic activity near the San Andreas fault, and found that underground stress is building at an alarming rate. According to a report first published by Science and reported by MSNBC, more than 2,000 tremors have been recorded between July 2001 and February 2009. The tremors have lasted from a few minutes to half an hour and could signal an upcoming quake of magnitude-6.0 or higher.

The published study, funded by the U.S. Geological Survey and National Science Foundation, shows that these mysterious tremors have followed an ominous sequence. Massive earthquakes in 2003 and 2004 shook Southern California. After the first, the number of tremors doubled. After the second, they multiplied six-fold. That suggests that the underground stress is building rapidly—in the same area that was struck by the ruinous magnitude-7.8 Ft. Tejon earthquake of 1857.

Scientists at the USGS caution that increased tremors do not infallibly predict an upcoming quake, but as FLYP reported last year, evidence is mounting that the next big one could be right around the corner.

The USGS coordinator for earthquake hazards investigations in Northern California told FLYP: “There’s a 63 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or greater in the next 30 years.”

 Humboldt Squid
A jumbo Humboldt squid. Photo courtesy of Newscom

Just this morning, a magnitude-4.0 quake occurred 19 miles out to sea near La Jolla, Calif., scaring residents and washing dozens of Humboldt squid ashore on a local beach. The three- to four-foot squid are known for their viciousness at night in the open ocean (off the coast of Mexico they are called “red devils” for their aggressively flashing red skin), and police warned beachgoers to stay clear.

Nevertheless, NBC reports that residents were trying to help the 40 pounders back into the ocean. “Disoriented,” the squid washed back up on the beach.

The squids’ visit to La Jolla is just the latest reminder of the shaky ground above the San Andreas fault and the future shock that scientists believe to be all but inevitable.

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