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L.A. Times: Statewide quake may be possible in California — The fault in the model ‘snapped’

Published: January 10th, 2013 at 5:46 pm ET
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Title: Statewide quake in California may be possible after all
Source: Los Angeles Times
Author: Eryn Brown
Date: January 9, 2013, 7:44 p.m.
h/t Anonymous tip

For decades, scientists have assumed the central portion of California’s San Andreas fault acts as a barrier that prevents a big quake in the southern part of the state from spreading to the north, and vice versa. As a result, a mega-quake that could be felt from San Diego to San Francisco was widely considered impossible.

But that key fault segment might not serve as a barrier in all cases, researchers wrote Wednesday in the online edition of the journal Nature.

[...] there were also instances when the simulation resulted in ruptures in the creeping patch. In those cases, the rocks slipped past each other quickly enough to heat up and weaken the fault, allowing it to snap. [...]

The San Andreas wouldn’t necessarily snap as the fault in the model did, [Caltech engineer and geophysicist Nadia Lapusta] said: “Hopefully the creeping segment is such that it doesn’t have the propensity for weakness. But without examining further, you can’t say.” [...]

Planners had always assumed that responders from one part of the state would be available to supply aid in the other.

Watch a local TV broadcast on the study here

Published: January 10th, 2013 at 5:46 pm ET
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4 comments

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