According to the 53 pages study, researchers used two methods to reach these conclusions about the possibility of a big quake in California.
After all these studies, researchers could determine that California may be in danger if the offshore or southern onshore segments rupture.
Southern California is capable of a magnitude 7.3 quake, a new analysis of the region's coast fault systems revealed. The disparate data have different resolution scales and depth of penetration providing a "nested survey" of the region.
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The work revealed that four segments of the strike-slip fault are broken up by "stepovers" - or, points where the fault is horizontally offset.
A pair of natural disaster fault lines previously believed to be of little seismic threat to Southern California have been re-evaluated by scientists, who on Tuesday said the pair actually are a single fault that is capable of even more damage than previously believed.
A report from the U.S. Geological Survey has warned the risk of "the big one" hitting California has increased dramatically. Most earthquakes were 7.5 magnitude or larger, according to the study. Southern California Edison funded the research at the direction of the California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission.
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Researchers analysed the latest data from the state's complex system of active geological faults, as well as new methods for translating these data into quake likelihoods.
There is a significant fault between San Diego and Los Angeles that could be the cause of a magnitude 7.4 natural disaster in California. The last major temblor occurred 160 years ago, a catastrophic geological event that ruptured an astonishing 185 miles of the San Andreas fault.
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. "They're actually looking back in time and they were able to identify 10 earthquakes that occurred over the last 1,200 years", explained Robert Graves, a research geophysicist with the USGS.
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These contingency plans reflect deep anxiety about the potential gravity of the looming disaster: upward of 14,000 people dead in the worst-case scenarios, 30,000 injured, thousands left homeless and the region's economy setback for years, if not decades. San Diego State University seismologist Tom Rockwell has recently completed research in Old Town that suggests that the fault has been far more active in the past than once believed, raising the prospect that a significant quake could hit one of San Diego's most densely populated areas.