Earthquake: The Big One

Earthquakes have been a staple of California life for centuries, but is it time for “the big one?” Every time there is an earthquake the question is asked,” isn’t there usually a calm before the storm?” Since St. Patrick’s Day, the Los Angeles area has been facing 4.0 quakes. The tremors over the last two weeks have been getting stronger, culminating in the 5.1 magnitude quake on Friday evening. Since Friday there have been over 100 aftershocks, one even larger than the 5.1 . Yet in the last few years the seismic activity has been rather quiet, according to Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Services. California has suffered some of the most devastating earthquakes in history, so many residents are wondering if it is time for the big one.

History has proved earthquakes can be devastating; the 1906 San Francisco quake topped the Richter scale at whopping 7.8. In comparison the 1989 was only a 6.9 crumbled buildings, caused a double-decker freeway to implode on itself trapping hundreds, and killed over 60 people. Scientists are calling the Los Angeles quake quite moderate in comparison to what an earthquake can do. Conspiracy theorists believe the big one will plummet the entire state of California into the Pacific, however scientists contend that the big one would devastate the water and food supply leaving the state inhabitable.

Scientists agree that there are aggressively strange seismic activities taking place. It has been confirmed there have been as many as five earthquakes in the Vrancea province of Romania in that last week. They have become stronger and can be felt as far away as Brasov. The unusual activity has cracked 200-year-old structures and caused a massive sink hole in neighboring cities. No one is familiar with faults in the area yet there are small volcanos. There may be a connection between the strange seismic activity and undisclosed fracking activity. The epicenter of the quakes are over 132 miles away from the most recent activity discovered in the Muldova region on the other side of the Carpathian mountains of Brasov. These strange activities signal to a more global audience the possibility of an earthquake that could be considered the big one.

The land mass along the Anak Krakatau fault, also known as the Ring of Fire, has had significant activity over the last few weeks culminating in the Los Angeles earthquakes. The Ring of Fire is a semicircular ring spanning over 25 thousand miles across North America, the Bering Straight, into Japan, and all the way down to New Zealand. The tectonic plates along the ring of fire were responsible for the 1980 devastating volcanic explosion at Mt. St. Helens. Earthquakes are responsible for the tsunamis that have devastated areas of Asia over the last decade. Tsunamis are formed when tectonic plates under the ocean floor slip and hit each other. Many in California have gotten so used to seismic activity that some consider the recent quakes a regular occurrence. The fears in those new to such an environment are worried as they are awaken in the middle of the night. Only time will tell if this is truly the big one, but scientists world-wide are expressing the opinion that the lack of earthquake activity over the last decade has signaled a calm before a much greater storm.

By Kimberly Beller

Star Tribune
San Andreas Fault
National Geographic


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