July 13, 2024

A newly discovered fault, the Salton Trough Fault, has drawn attention because of the recent earthquake warnings in the area and fears of quakes like the much-hyped “Big One” — magnitude 8 or greater — striking local communities.

According to The Press Enterprise, the new fault was found using seismic reflection equipment and lidar, a radar-type system that uses lasers instead of sounds. The data showed a “deformation” in the surface of the ground with the thickness of at least two kilometers. It was discovered beneath the Salton Sea, parallel to the San Andreas Fault, which is known for being California’s major earthquake fault.

Dr. Bonjun Koo, professor of environmental science at California Baptist University, said the discovery can help scientists look at the possibility of a major earthquake in this region.

“The new fault could impact buildings in earthquake-prone areas so it is important for us to pay attention to these new discoveries,” Koo said. “It is important that scientists identify and locate the faults before any earthquakes happen.”

A major break in the San Andreas Fault has not happened in more than 300 years.

Danny Delgado, junior civil engineering major, said the new discovery makes him apprehensive because there is a higher chance for an earthquake to happen.

“Earthquakes provide a large issue for structures, especially large ones, and can cause shifts in foundations
destroying the structural integrity,” he said. “The idea that we already live near an active fault line — and now a new fault line surfaces — frightens me.”

Scientists say there is a 19 percent chance a quake of 6.7 magnitude or greater will hit within the next 30 years.

Jamie Perlee, junior communication studies major, said she has never felt an earthquake but thought it was good to be aware of the new fault line.

“The thought of being in a huge earthquake scares me, but I am not worried about the fault line because who knows when the next big quake will actually be,” Perlee said. “I always hear warnings about the next huge earthquake but it never happens so I’m not too sure about this one.”

The new fault line did not move during the earthquake swarm and was undiscovered until now because there had been no activity in the past.

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