‘Big one’ coming? Earthquakes off the West Coast could eventually trigger a global event

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A string of recent earthquakes off the West Coast of the U.S., ranging from 2.8 to 5.6 on the Richter scale, could help trigger the earthquake colloquially known as “the Big One.”

The map provided by the U.S. Geological Survey highlights 11 recent earthquakes, all occurring on the seabed of the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, approximately 6 miles below the surface. The plate, which is described as “small” by the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN), is fairly active, moving east-northeast at approximately 1.6 inches per year.

To date, the USGS has not issued any warnings over this spate of earthquakes, given the fairly common nature of the caliber of quakes, Don Blakeman, a geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information Center told the Daily Mail.

Part of the concern surrounding the plate is that it is not a smooth motion, but rather a motion described as “sticky,” causing strain to build up “until the fault breaks and a few meters of Juan De Fuca slips under North America in a big earthquake.”

PNSN noted that it would take a lot of slip (approximately 10s of meters) over a very large area to generate a M9 (magnitude of 9.0) level earthquake that could hit the region, but
noted that it does occur approximately every 550 years on average.- READ MORE

Residents in the San Francisco Bay Area are living along a fault that is a “ticking time bomb” that could generate an earthquake that could kill hundreds, according to a report released Wednesday.

The U.S. Geological Survey said in a report called the “HayWired Scenario” that a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on Hayward Fault located under Oakland could kill as many as 800 people and injure up to 18,000.

“This fault is what we sort of call a tectonic time bomb,” USGS earthquake geologist emeritus David Schwartz told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s just waiting to go off.”

Researches said the Hayward Fault is dangerous because it runs through “one of the most urbanized” areas in the nation, stretching along the East Bay from Richmond and Berkeley up north, through Oakland, and spanning south toward Fremont.

The USGS, citing findings from a simulated tremor with an epicenter in Oakland modeled to take place at 4:18 p.m. on April 18, said the disaster would cause 400 fires that could destroy 50,000 homes. Nearly half a million people would be displaced, authorities said. READ MORE

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