Study Says California Fault That Could Produce 8.0 Magnitude Earthquake is Moving for the First Time

Buckled asphalt in a parking lot in Argus, Calif., after the Ridgecrest earthquakes in July. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

A California fault that could produce an 8.0-magnitude earthquake began sliding following the Ridgecrest earthquake sequence this summer, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science.

But the unprecedented movement on the 160-mile-long Garlock Fault isn’t the only takeaway, said Zachary Ross, lead author of the study from scientists at the California Institute of Technology and NASA.

“We really have to remind ourselves that California is earthquake country,” Ross said. “So, it’s not just thinking about the largest, most damaging potential scenarios like events on the San Andreas, but remembering that there’s a potential for hazard pretty much all over the place.”

About 20 faults created the Ridgecrest earthquake sequence, the study found, by triggering each other similar to dominoes. While each individual fault might not have created the 6.4 and 7.1 shakers on their own, Ross said the potential of multi-fault ruptures needs further attention.

The 7.1-magnitude temblor on July 6 was the most powerful earthquake in nearly 20 years in the Golden State. There has never been a 8.0 earthquake in California; the strongest on record is a 7.9 near Fort Tejon in 1857, according to the state’s Department of Conservation.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: USA Today, Kristin Lam