A new study suggests that a “structure” found in the San Andreas Fault line could trigger a massive earthquake.
There have been fears for years of the “big one,” an earthquake that could devastate Californian cities and cause untold damage. The newly found structure is located near the fault by the Salton Sea, located in Southern California, according to a study by the Geological Society of America and published in Lithosphere.
The so-called Durmid ladder structure could be ground zero for the “big one” along the fault. Researchers said there is a 75 percent chance it would occur in both southern and northern California within the next 30 years.
“This newly identified Durmid ladder structure is a voluminous, right-reverse fault zone that broadens across Durmid Hill around rotating domains of regularly spaced, left- and right-lateral cross faults,” the study states.
The U.S. Geological Survey’s Dr. Walter Mooney explained the structure to KRON4.
“If you have a ladder and you break a rung or a step, then the ladder begins to deform, and if you break another rung, well I wouldn’t want to be on that ladder because the whole thing, both sides could go,” Mooney said. He said that the far southern end of the San Andreas Fault is due for a large earthquake.
“We would be very concerned if we begin to see movement on that ladder structure because it could trigger or influence or encourage other associated faults to move and what we’re really afraid of is a big one, a magnitude 8 in Southern California,” Mooney said.
The researchers gave some parameters on where the earthquake would be centered.
“The East Shoreline fault appears to continue northward for over 100 km past the Mecca and Indio Hills along the northeast margin of Coachella Valley, where southwest-dipping basin-fill deposits are being exhumed on its northeast side,” the study says. “Lines 4 and 5 of the Salton Seismic Imaging Project imaged faults that are along strike of the East Shoreline fault and occupy the same structural position as the East Shoreline fault relative to the San Andreas fault.”
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