There has been an incredibly pervasive reality that all Californians live with, thanks to the state’s unique geological architecture: The state is ripe for devastating earthquakes.
The most overwhelming concern for these denizens of the west coast is “The Big One”; a colloquial term used to describe an earthquake so powerful that it dwarfs all others in magnitude, possibly sending California into the dark ages. Or worse, the entire state could break off from the rest of the contiguous U.S. right at the San Andreas fault.
That latter bit of worry is likely overblown, but the idea has persisted in California folklore for decades, if not longer.
Now, a massive swarm of earthquakes has been detected near the famous fault over the course of the last week, renewing these fears of a catastrophic tectonic occurrence the likes of which the world has never seen. Just this week, the San Andreas fault has been inundated with over 130 small shakes.
“Last week a series of 10 mini-earthquakes struck Monterey County in the US state, raising fears a monster tremor could devastate the region.
“A powerful, 4.6 magnitude quake 13 miles northeast of Gonzales, along the San Andreas Fault, was the largest to strike the region.
“The San Andreas Fault – a 750-mile fissure that runs the length of California – is thought to be long overdue a ‘Big One’ earthquake measuring magnitude 7 or greater.
“Since last week, a whopping 134 earthquakes within three miles of that 4.6 tremor were recorded, USGS said.
“In the short term, this swarm has dramatically increased the chances of a colossal earthquake rattling the region, according to experts.
“Scientists believe the US state is long overdue a magnitude 7 or greater earthquake by around 50 years.”
Even the conservative estimates of the damage that would occur with such a quake are horrifying.
Not only would there be mass casualties immediately, (possibly in the realm of 1,800 or more fatalities), but a massive release of pressure from the famed fault would likely be felt as far away as Las Vegas, Nevada or parts of Arizona.