Major Southern California fault line eyed after study shows unprecedented movement

Major Southern California fault line eyed after study shows unprecedented movement

October 18, 2019 0 By Stephanie William

A South Californian major fault line that could produce an earthquake of 8 temblor magnitude has begun to move for the first time in 500 years. This is being owed to a series of earthquakes that hit the Mojave Desert this summer. A study by geophysicists from CalTech and Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Lab found that the Garlock Fault which runs 185 miles from San Andreas Fault to Death Valley has already slipped one-eighth of an inch since July.


This is surprising the scientific community as they have never seen this fault line move at all. Now, suddenly, it is changing its behavior according to Zachary Ross, assistant professor of geophysics at CalTech and author of the study on this faultline.

Satellite images have shown a process known as a fault creep which began after an earthquake sequence, the largest in 20 years, was experienced. The aftershock of 6.4 shook the Mojave Desert 120 miles north of LA before the 7.1 mainshocks hit the next day. About 100,000 aftershocks were also seen.

The earthquakes which affected the desert town of Ridgecrest affected interconnected faults throughout the region adding the strain on Garlock. Ross has said that 20 unknown crisscrossing faults were also affected. This proves that one single rupture on a fault line does not cause an earthquake. Ross’ automated computer analysis of the seismometer data to detect the number of aftershocks with a precise location is going to be used. Ross also said that the 6.4 earthquakes broke faults at a right angle to one another.

The study was published on the day that Governor Newsom announced an Earthquake Early Warning System which uses ground sensors to detect quakes before humans can even feel them. The US Geological Survey and Science Institutions have neem pushing cell phone alerts through a mobile application developed at the University of California.

This ShakeAlert uses seismic sensors to detect earthquakes and calculates its location and strength to alert residents through the WEA system. This will give people a few seconds of warning to protect themselves before the quake begins.