GPS Readings Showed Large-Scale Vertical Motion Along San Andreas Fault

First Posted: Jun 22, 2016 07:04 AM EDT

GPS technology recently revealed that there is evidence of significant movement along the San Andreas Fault, with researchers finding 125-mile-wide "lobes" of earth on either side of the fault that is said to move a few millimeters each year.

The findings published in the Nature Geoscience journal indicated there is a "small-amplitude, but spatially considerable, coherent pattern of uplift and subsidence straddling the fault system in southern California."

A doctoral candidate in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, Samuel Howell said that the data had been publicly available for over a decade, but the vertical component had been ignored for the most part because of the difficulties that they have in interpreting noisy data.

However, using the a technique, they were able to break down the signals and isolate a vertical motion pattern that straddled the fault - which can help researchers map and predict earthquake efforts in the future.

Pulse Headlines noted that the US Geological Survey predicted a possible maximum earthquake magnitude of 8.0 along the San Andreas Fault, with a seven percent probability that the event could occur within the next 30 years.

In the same 30-year period, there is a 75 percent chance of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake happening. The difference between the two magnitude sizes may seem small, but an earthquake with an 8.0 magnitude is said to have 1,000 times more energy than the 7.0 magnitude quake.

To help them understand better the possible damages that these events could produce, researchers modeled a 7.8 magnitude quake with a 2 to 7-meter slippage to represent the catastrophic consequences that it could have on California.

They were able to determine that the most damage will happen to constructions straddling the fault. The area that will be most affected will include 996 roads, 90 fiber optic cables, 39 gas pipes, and 141 power lines across the zone.

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