Earthquake Overdue in SoCal

Map of Southern California with area of recent quake activity. Image from USGS/GOOGLE MAPS, courtesy of CBS News.

LOS ANGELES, CA – On September 30, the California Office of Emergency Services (OES) issued an earthquake warning to residents in Southern California for the upcoming week.

“Any time there is significant seismic activity [near] the San Andreas fault, we seismologists get nervous,” said Thomas Jordan, director of Southern California Earthquake Center, “because we recognize the probability of having a large earthquake goes up.”

Since last Monday, more than 140 small tremors have been recorded, the highest of which had a magnitude of 4.3. The most recent seismic activity on Thursday registered as a 3.2. All seismic events were located near the Salton Sea, which sits on the San Andreas Fault.

“The threat of an earthquake on the San Andreas fault hasn’t gone away,” said OES Director Mark Ghilarducci. “We must always be prepared and not let our guard down.”

According to data gathered from seismographs, there is a one percent chance that an earthquake of magnitude greater than 7 could occur in the following week. However, on Friday, seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones said, “[The seismic events] are over and the increased risk mostly gone.”

Still, the recent tremors are a stark reminder to Californian residents of the potential dangers of the San Andreas Fault. A major earthquake usually occurs in this region every 150-200 years; however, it last ruptured in 1680, which is 330 years ago.

“When there’s significant seismicity in this area of the fault, we kind of wonder if it is somehow going to go active,” said Caltech seismologist Egill Hauksson.”So maybe one of those small earthquakes that’s happening in the neighborhood of the fault is going to trigger it, and set off the big event.”

The major cities at risk include San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, and Los Angeles. Local officials are advising residents to take caution and familiarize themselves with safety protocols and emergency plans. Many of the city governments and local organizations have taken the opportunity this week to review their emergency preparations for possible earthquake disasters, ensuring they are ready should such events occur.

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