A new fault called Salton Trough was found lying near San Andreas Fault. Experts suggest it might be delaying the occurrence of the “big one”.
A week ago, closely timed earthquakes called “swarm” were recorded in California’s Salton Sea raising the possibility of a magnitude seven quake in areas close to the San Andreas Fault. The estimated probability was 1:100 but this has declined days after.
On the same week, experts detected a new fault in almost the same area where the swarm occurred. The Salton Trough Fault was discovered on the east side of the Salton Sea.
Geologist Neal Driscoll from the University of California San Diego disclosed that seismic devices may have, in the past, failed to detect the new fault due to its location and absence of small, low magnitude earthquakes.
Bulletin of Seismological Society of America reports that the new fault is lying along the south of the San Andreas Fault and that it may have played a role in postponing the “big one” from happening.
There is no certainty when the “big one” will happen, but it will happen at some future time according to experts. If it does, it would be catastrophic especially for those living in the Los Angeles area.
Since the 1700s, no high magnitude earthquakes have been recorded in that area of the San Andreas Fault where the Salton Sea lies. While the recent swarm in this particular region inched up the possible occurrence of a big quake, the newly discovered fault presents another scenario where it could divert or localize a major quake.
Meanwhile, there are claims that a double-fault quake could also occur in the region. It starts when stress is released by a fault, causing the adjacent fault to push itself forward.
Some experts theorize that this is exactly what happened with the San Jacinto Fault and the adjacent San Andreas Fault back in 1812. Based on the location of the new fault, some suggest that a similar double fault quake within the San Andreas Fault might happen again.
Other new discoveries related to the San Andreas Fault have been coming out. A recent one points to the moon as one of the culprits to the low magnitude quakes occurring yearly in the region.
As days go by, more stress can be accumulating in the San Andreas Fault which could, later on, lead to the catastrophic big one.
A practical plan of action is to ensure that infrastructure within affected states is built to high standards while entrusting “fault finding” to the experts.