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Jun 21 / Dave Schumaker

Southern San Andreas ready to explode

The southern section of the San Andreas fault has not moved in nearly 250 years, and according to researchers with the Scripps Institute of Oceonography at the University of California, San Diego, it is ready to “explode” at any moment.

Given the amount of stress built up along this part of the fault, the researchers hypothesize that there is enough stress to create a magnitude 8.0 earthquake and upwards of 32 feet of lateral offset, which would be among the largest offsets ever recorded along the fault. (The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake had lateral offset of up to 21 feet).

According to the study, there are three possible scenarios as to why there hasn’t been any significant movement on this part of the fault: some sort of aseismic creep that is going on beneath the surface, the possibility that this section of the fault does not move as much as the sections to the north, or the possiblity that something is blocking the fault from moving (and increasing stress).
The research is presented in this week’s issue of Nature.

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