Recent California earthquakes may have made the Big One more likely

Quakes that hit Ridgecrest last year could create a domino effect and trigger a temblor along the San Andreas fault—but many unknowns remain.

PUBLISHED

A car drives past a crack in the road on Highway 178, south of Trona, California, after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit the nearby town of Ridgecrest on July 4, 2019.

In Southern California, the landscape is fractured in the shape of an enormous letter Z. The top arm is made up of a winding series of cracks that were responsible for q uakes that rattled the city of Ridgecrest last year. The diagonal section is an ancient fault called Garlock that runs to the west. And along the bottom sits the mighty San Andreas.

Earthquakes along this lengthy fault, which runs more than 800 miles through California, are an ever-looming concern—and a new study suggests that in the next year, a large quake near the bustling city of Los Angeles could be three to five times more likely than previously thought. The research, published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, found that the 2019 Ridgecrest earthquakes made a future quake along the nearby Garlock fault more likely. If a big enough quake hits Garlock, it could trigger the San Andreas fault as well—a series of events that the researchers estimate has about a 1 in 87 probability of occurring within the next year.

However, the overall probability...

Read the rest of this article on NatGeo.com
close

You are going to nationalgeographic.com/tv and different terms of use and privacy policy will apply.

CONTINUE

Follow Us

twitter

Subscribe for full access to read stories from National Geographic.