To Los Angeles fault could produce 7.3 quake
The stepovers in the Newport-Inglewood and Rose Canyon fault were found to be two kilometers wide or less, leading the team to conclude that all the offshore segments of the fault could collapse together.
The work revealed that four segments of the strike-slip fault are broken up by "stepovers" - or, points where the fault is horizontally offset. The study appeared in the most recent issue of the American Geophysical Union's Journal of Geophysical Research. By using these two types of data, which differ in their resolution and depth of penetration, the team was able to define the fault structure in great detail, which could then be used to calculate natural disaster magnitudes.
After all these studies, researchers could determine that California may be in danger if the offshore or southern onshore segments rupture. However, along the Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon fault zone, none of the three stepovers exceed 2 km in width, leading the team to believe that an natural disaster could rupture the entire length of the fault zone in M=7.3+ events.
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When conducting research, the team processed seismic surveys from the past and added in high-resolution bathymetric data, gathered offshore by Scripps researchers between 2006 and 2009, in addition to seismic surveys conducted aboard former Scripps research vessels.
The study was led by Valerie Sahakian, who earned her doctorate at Scripps before moving to the U.S. Geological Survey as a postdoctoral fellow. A high 5- or low 6-magnitude natural disaster is already considered a threat.
The fault, officially known as the Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon fault zone, caused a 6.4-magnitude quake in Long Beach, Calif. that killed 115 people in 1933. Geological evidence of ancient earthquakes suggests that the fault has ruptured between three and five times in the past 11,000 years. At the southern end, there is evidence of a quake that took place roughly 400 years ago and little significant activity for 5,000 years before that. It concluded that further study was needed to better understand the hazard potential in the area.
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