Remember the “old days” in California, a whole month ago, when the idea of a major earthquake meant a widespread disaster in Northern or Southern California?
Now, Caltech seismologists have released scientific evidence that a “major earthquake” in California could actually produce shaking and widespread damage throughout the entire state.
New evidence coming from researchers studying the 1999 Taiwan quake and the 2011earthquake in Japan indicates that previously “stable” creeping zones were active in both incidents.
“What we have found, based on laboratory data about rock behavior, is that such supposedly stable segments can behave differently when an earthquake rupture penetrates into them. Instead of arresting the rupture as expected, they can actually join in and hence make earthquakes much larger than anticipated,” says Nadia Lapusta, professor of mechanical engineering and geophysics at Caltech and coauthor of the study, published January 9 in the journal Nature.
So what should this new data mean to your average Californian? Quite a bit.
“…a creeping segment separates the southern and northern parts of California’s San Andreas Fault. Seismic hazard assessments assume that this segment would stop an earthquake from propagating from one region to the other, limiting the scope of a San Andreas quake. However, the team’s findings imply that a much larger event may be possible than is now anticipated—one that might involve both the Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas.”
Historically, emergency response to major California earthquakes has come from agencies in unaffected areas of the state. Southern California offers up resources to the North and vice versa. With the new quake model, both ends of the state would be affected, making it impossible to receive resources and aid.
Most importantly, this should be a reminder to all of us that we should be prepared to support ourselves and our families for a minimum of 72 hours following a major disaster. If a statewide earthquake struck, we should expect emergency services, food, fuel and utilities to be unavailable for much longer. Consider increasing your storage to a one to two week supply of essentials.
For more information on the Caltech report, visit the Caltech News page.
For more information on how you can prepare for a disaster, visit ready.gov.
Information for this article also found here.