California Floods To Trigger “The Big One”? – Geologists Warn Of Quake Risks From Snowpack, Rising Reservoirs
For years geologists have warned that Southern California is overdue for “The Big One”, a massive 8.0 or greater earthquake that would undoubtedly cause unprecedented death and destruction in several heavily populated urban centers sprinkled along the San Andreas Fault line.
While predicting earthquakes remains an uncertain science, there has been concern in recent years among experts that the San Andreas fault may be close to a new, major ruction if only by virtue of the length of time since it happened last, when the southern portion of the fault was struck by a 7.9 shaker all the way back in 1857.
Since then the tectonic plates that meet at the fault have been continuously on the move at a rate of about 2 inches per year. That means that over 159 years there has been a shift of 26 feet as the Pacific plate moves in a northwesterly direction against the American continental plate. Every additional inch creates additional pressures on the rocks beneath the earth’s surface that builds and builds until it eventually snaps.
Now, as the Los Angeles Times points out, the recent flooding in California has prompted some scientists to raise concerns over whether or not Californians are at a greater risk of being struck by an imminent quake. According to geologists, flooding can cause earthquakes in one of two ways: i) the sheer weight of rising reservoirs and snowpack causes tectonic plates to shift and/or ii) increasing pressure created from the refilling of underground water basins pushes plates apart, therefore reducing friction and allowing the earth’s crust to shift.
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