California's San Jacinto Fault Quake Odds Studied

MIAMI, Nov. 10 (UPI) — A study suggests California’s San Jacinto fault, with about four mini-earthquakes daily, is less likely to produce a major quake than the San Andreas fault.

“Those minor to moderate events along the San Jacinto fault relieve some of the stress built by the constantly moving tectonic plates,” said Professor Shimon Wdowinski at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

The 140-mile long San Jacinto fault runs between Palm Springs and Los Angeles and then south toward the Salton Sea east of San Diego.

The U.S. Geological Survey forecasts a 31 percent chance of a magnitude earthquake of 6.7 or higher on the Richter Scale along the San Jacinto fault during the next 30 years, Wdowinski said, noting only the San Andreas fault, with a 59 percent chance, is more likely to have a major event during the same period.

“Thirty-one percent is a high probability, when it comes to earthquake forecasting — the second highest in Southern California,” he said. “Our data show the next significant event for the San Jacinto fault would probably be between 6.0 and 6.7. It doesn’t sound like much, but in earthquake terms it is the difference between a major earthquake and a moderate event.”

Wdowinski presents his research in an article appearing in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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