Earthquake swarm in Los Angeles prompts fears of a much larger mega-quake

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Scientists conclude a mega-quake could strike at any time, killing thousands. Are you prepared?

A swarm of earthquakes shook the Southwestern Los Angeles area early Monday morning, rattling the nerves of some residents who awoke after hearing several sudden jolts that emitted from deep within the Earth. 

About 12 miles down, to be exact, says United States Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center Colorado geophysicist Paul Caruso, who admitted the main shock was “deep for California.” 

“We cannot predict earthquakes, but certainly there will be more aftershocks,” the geophysicist explained. 

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake struck the Lennox area at 4:44 a.m., according to reports, just 30-minute before several powerful foreshocks registered on seismographs.

“The M4.0 that just happened was under Lennox, CA, near Inglewood,” Seismologist, Founder & Chief Scientist of the Dr. Lucy Jones Center and author of The Big Ones, Dr. Lucy Jones, Tweeted on Monday. “Very deep at 20 km, so everyone is at least 20 km away. Would have been felt by most people awake in LA. [The] movement was thrust, probably not on any mapped fault.”

KCBS-TV Channel 2 was live on the air when the first tremor struck the Inglewood area. 

“That was definitely an earthquake right there,” said anchor DeMarco Morgan while on air. 

Retired LA Times editor Jim Walters Tweeted on Monday, that he didn’t feel the quake but rather only heard it. 

“Nothing like it in 40+ years,” he explained. “Was out walking the dog. Felt nothing. But I heard it.”

The retired newspaper editor said that it “sounded like a stack of plates on a table” that was “moving east to west.”

Walters said he thinks that it’s strange which direction the sound traveled in because he lives “east of the epicenter.”

Chiming in on the matter, the narrator of TheEarthMaster YouTube channel claims in his latest video that the earthquake activity in California is “getting deeper” and said that a magnitude 7.0 quake could be just over the horizon. 

The big one could strike at any time

There are about 500 active fault lines in California and scientists are still discovering more. 

In July 2019, there were two earthquakes in California near the Ridgecrest area that scientists say have raised the odds of a major disaster threefold making it highly possible for the fault to rupture. 

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck on July 4, 2019, followed by a 7.2 which hit a day and a half later. Although the quakes were located out in the desert 200 miles away, powerful jolts were felt in the City of Los Angeles. 

“You would think an earthquake … out in the desert would have no impact on Los Angeles,” says one of the authors of a study, seismologist Ross Stein. “But that is because we do not appreciate the way the network of fault lines connect across the state.”

The two quakes in July 2019, are believed to have put stress on the Garlock fault which in turn put stress on the San Andreas fault.

“The Garlock fault has not ruptured in 600 years, and given its location in a sparsely populated region, it is not regarded as a great threat,” reports Science Mag. “Yet, based on modeling from Stein and Shinji Toda, a seismologist at Tohoku University, stresses resulting from the Ridgecrest quakes have made the Garlock fault 100 times more likely to rupture—which would, in turn, boost the chances of the San Andreas rupturing.”

The annual probability of an earthquake striking in the San Andreas area was previously listed to about one-third of a percent, according to the United States Geological Survey. However, new modeling reveals that there is about a 1% chance of a massive quake happening annually. This means that instead of a ‘big one’ happening every 300 years there is a more likely chance that a large quake will strike about once every hundred years. The question is: how many years until the big one hits?

A research article out of the publication GeoScience World titled Long and Short‐Term Stress Interaction of the 2019 Ridgecrest Sequence and Coulomb‐Based Earthquake Forecasts investigated a series of retrospective earthquake interactions in southern California and came up with some answers in the process. 

During their study researchers found that four magnitude 7 shocks in the past 150 years has brought the Ridgecrest fault 1 step closer to failure. The study also suggests that there is about a 2.5% chance of the Garlock fault rupturing by June of 2021, adding concern. 

“If such a rupture occurred and reached within 45 km of the San Andreas, we calculate it would raise the probability of a San Andreas rupture on the Mojave section by a factor of 150,” the June 2020 report concludes. “We, therefore, estimate the net chance of large San Andreas earthquake in the next 12 months to be 1.15% or about three to five times its background probability.”

Preparing for disaster

The July 2020 Ridgecrest earthquakes took a lot of Californians by surprise. More than 6,000 people were left without power as a result of being caught off-guard. And although it’s tough to predict exactly when the big one will occur, it’s important to point out that it’s only a matter of time and maybe sooner than previously thought. Not to mention, when the big one finally does occur the damage is going to be epic. 

Forbes reports that the big one could be 44 times more powerful than the SoCal Northridge earthquake of 1994, which killed 72 people and injured over 9,000, causing over $25 billion in damage. 

“In 2008, a group of scientists, engineers, and others predicted The Big One would lead to more than 1,800 deaths, 50,000 injuries, and $200 billion in damage and other losses.”  

The piece in Forbes also points out the fact that there are many cracks in preparedness. No pun intended. The lack of readiness equates to things like only 14% of homeowners in California carry earthquake insurance which is a problem. This is because the premium on this type of coverage generally runs about $727 per year, which is a sizable chunk of money for some households to spend. Especially, during the lockdown era. 

To top it off, there is also the chance that the resulting power outages from a large earthquake would remain in effect for some time after, making it difficult for city folk to operate in their normal routines. That’s why it’s always a good idea to know how to obtain and purify water for drinking and already have a decent emergency food supply and water stockpile to begin with ahead of time, which can help save your life and the lives of loved ones and pets if and when such a disaster were to happen. 

Remember, it’s also not a bad idea to practice earthquake drills throughout the year so reactions are second nature when it comes down to it since the big one can strike at any time. 

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