Earthquake warning: Unprecedented movement detected in California fault capable of triggering megaquake

Earthquake (Representational picture) Pixabay

Brad Peyton's Hollywood disaster movie 'San Andreas' that featured Dwayne Johnson in the lead role portrayed the aftermath of a dreaded earthquake following the rupture of the San Andreas fault. And now, a new study conducted by Caltech researchers has found that a California fault that has started moving, and it is capable of triggering a megaquake that could measure 8 on the Richter scale.

The research report also made it clear that the destabilization of California faults is the result of the Ridgecrest earthquake. New satellite images used in the study suggest that the fault has started to move, and the bulging of the land can be even viewed from space.

"This is surprising because we've never seen the Garlock fault do anything. Here, all of a sudden, it changed its behavior. We don't know what it means," said Zachary Ross, an assistant professor of geophysics at Caltech, and the lead author of the study, CBS News reports.

Experts believe that Ridgecrest trembles are actually good, as it makes future earthquakes very unlikely. It should be noted that earthquakes make future tremors unlikely, but there are several instances where follow-up aftershocks turned bigger, thus causing a catastrophe.

"This complex fault geometry persists over the entire seismogenic depth range. The rupture of the mainshock terminated only a few kilometers from the major regional Garlock fault, triggering shallow creep and a substantial earthquake swarm. The repeated occurrence of multi fault ruptures, as revealed by modern instrumentation and analysis techniques, poses a formidable challenge in quantifying regional seismic hazards," read the study abstract published in the journal Science.

The US Geological Survey also claims that the Ridgecrest earthquakes will not trigger major tremors. However, the USGS added that the quakes did increase the chances of a magnitude-7.5 quake or larger along the Garlock and other faults.

A few months back, Dr Thomas Rockwell, a San Diego State University geology professor and paleoseismologist had claimed that the San Andreas fault is ripe for a major earthquake. As per Rockwell, the major earthquake that hit the area happened 380 years back, and the average earthquake recurrent interval in this area is about 180 years, which indicates that a major quake may hit the area anytime soon.