In recent weeks, earthquakes have been felt across Southern California; however seismologists believe the worst is yet to come. Seismologists, geologists and scientists agree a more powerful earthquake, the likes of which has not been felt in 300 years, is looming in the future.
Most Californians and Angelenos have herd of the historic 1906 earthquake of San Francisco that had over 3000 fatalities. The great San Francisco quake was a 7.8 on the Richter scale, and many of its damages were due to lack of preparation in the city’s infrastructure. Since 1906, many have suspected anxiously, the arrival of the next great quake.
In 1994, Los Angeles experienced another big quake, 20 miles north of downtown. Dubbed the Northridge Earthquake, it measured a 6.7 on the Richter scale and caused some of the longest ground disturbances to date. The quake was estimated at 20 seconds long and was felt from distances up to 220 miles away.
Earthquakes have been seamlessly apart of California culture since tribal man first set foot here. The San Andreas fault line is one of the largest in the world and is responsible for most seismic activity in Southern California, conceiving thousands of small earthquakes annually. Seismologists believe earthquakes from the fault come in 150 year cycles and with the last one occurring in 1857, the worst should of been here around 2007.The fault line, leaving most Southern Californians with anxiety, is also responsible for some of the state’s most beautiful mountain ranges. Seismologists believe, although the fault will play a major role in “the big one,” other factors will enhance the destructive nature of the quake. In Los Angeles, there exists a population of around 10.6 million people.
Earthquakes usually produce seismic waves that dissipate as they radiate from the fault. However, Los Angeles sits on top of a sedimentary basin, a geological complex structure that alters the way energy travels through the earth. The city’s sedimentary basin alters the seismic absorption, becoming more powerful. Seemingly, making an earthquake 100 miles away, where the fault is located, feel directly under the city.
Many major cities are often built above these sedimentary basins, since they are formed through mountains and rivers. Wind and rains crash into mountains for hundreds of thousands of years, eroding sediments into fine grain rocks, that are carried by rivers and water into large forming basins. Tokyo and Mexico City, are also built above these similar sedimentary basins. When Earthquakes in Southern California, do hit these sedimentary basin cities, the worst destruction costs will come with them.
Over the last few weeks, smaller 4-5 Richter earthquakes have been felt across the United States and Southern California. While some researchers and big earthquake watchers, believe these recent seismic activities could mean the “big one” is on the horizon, other seismologists suggest, these smaller quakes are actually aftershocks from some of the most devastating Earthquakes in the early 1800’s.
Although it is hard to pinpoint the location and time of when the “big one” will occur, almost all seismologists and geologists alike, agree the big quake is inevitable. With today’s most advanced technology, leading research universities like Stanford, are dedicating their efforts into trying to understand when the “big one” will arrive. Southern California earthquakes have almost a folk-lore standing, every year we seem to hear the worst one is yet to come, and that this one will be the largest and most destructive than any we have witnessed.
By Zane Foley