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Part of the San Andreas Fault in California is ripe for a major earthquake, the study says

Part of the San Andreas Fault in California is ripe for a major earthquake, the study says


Scientists are trying to find a way to predict earthquakes by detecting their precursors.

A new study claims that California could be hit by a major earthquake within the next two years. It is led by Luca Malanini, research director at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy. His team of researchers studied the Parkfield section of the San Andreas Fault and found that earthquakes occur every 22 years there. The most recent earthquake along this section of the fault was a magnitude 6 earthquake in 2004, which followed a previous magnitude 6.7 earthquake in 1983, a 6.0 earthquake in 1966 and a magnitude 6.5 earthquake in 1934.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Earth Science, concluded that Parkfield is approaching the end of its quiet period and that an earthquake is imminent.

“We're waiting,” Malanini told Live Science.

Scientists have long been monitoring the San Andreas fault line, which is expected to be the source of the “Grand Line.” It separates the Pacific and North American tectonic plates.

While the fault line is located south of Parkfield, it moves freely to the north, where plates are creeping against each other at a steady rate of 1.4 inches (3.6 cm) per year, the outlet reported. Parkfield is a transition zone between these two plates.

Scientists have been trying for decades to find a way to predict earthquakes by detecting their precursors — stress on rocks or changes in permeability beneath the surface. Malanini and his team hope to find such evidence in Parkfield, which is known for its frequent earthquakes.

There have been cases when Parkfield skipped earthquakes, but this happened when other nearby earthquakes changed the pressures in the area. There were no such earthquakes this time, so the research team warned of the possibility of a strong earthquake.

The September 28, 2004 earthquake shook the area and was epicentered in the town of Parkfield, which had a population of only 37 people at the time.

The quake was felt in an area with a radius of 350 miles (563 kilometers) from Orange County to Sacramento.

Scientists also recorded 150 aftershocks following the seismic event.




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