Alert! New Fault Running Parallel To San Andreas Fault Has Just Been Discovered

Oct 06, 2016 05:10 AM EDT

Following a swarm of 200 earthquakes that prompted apprehension in the Southern California and raised anxiety about the awakening of the "sleeping giant," San Andreas Fault, seismologists had discovered a new "potentially significant" earthquake fault.

The new fault was discovered by scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego and the Nevada Seismological Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno.

According to Science Daily, the fault sits along the eastern edge of the Salton Sea and is running parallel to the San Andreas Fault. The discovery of the previously unknown fault can impact the existing seismic hazard models in the region which is known to be earthquake-prone. Thus, there will be a need to re-evaluate earthquake risk models now that it has been found.

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Science Alert said that to find the fault, the experts used multi-channel seismic data, ocean-bottom seismometers and a surveying method.

"The location of the fault in the eastern Salton Sea has made imaging it difficult and there is no associated small seismic events, which is why the fault was not detected earlier," said Scripps geologist Neal Driscoll, the lead principal investigator of the NSF-funded project, and coauthor of the study in a statement.

"We employed the marine seismic equipment to define the deformation patterns beneath the sea that constrained the location of the fault."

What does it mean for people in the region? While most might think the new fault could add more danger to the present situation, the experts said it might actually answer why the region has been experiencing less earthquakes over the years. San Andreas fault has been long over due, as they have claimed.

"Based on the deformation patterns, this new fault has accommodated some of the strain from the larger San Andreas system, so without having a record of past earthquakes from this new fault, it's really difficult to determine whether this fault interacts with the southern San Andreas Fault at depth or in time."

Further studies are needed to determine the exact location and character of the new fault. The findings of the news study were published recently at the journal Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.

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