Researchers in California have recently found a new fault line that runs mainly under the Salton Sea, according to an article recently published on Wire. The fault line was discovered while a team of scientist was mapping the sea’s floor for other purposes using equipment that has just recently been developed.
Researchers at the Southern California Earthquake Center say that this fault line may be taking pressure off the San Andreas fault line and the Imperial fault line. If so, then this may explain why the promised big earthquake has not developed.
They say that the earth’s crust is covered with a series of small fault lines. Most of these lines go unmapped because of the expenses incurred in locating them and in mapping them. They say that they had long suspected that there was a fault line running between the San Andreas fault line and the Imperial fault line because the end of the two lines do not meet as they would expect.
The new fault line, called the Salton Trough Fault, has been sending off little earthquakes lately. Scientists measured 300 on one night recently that were under a 2 magnitude. Therefore, they increased the likelihood that a big earthquake would soon develop.
Officials with the National Earthquake Center say that the earth is constantly in motion. They know that the Pacific plate of the San Andreas fault is moving northwest about 16 feet per 100 years. They also know that the North American plate has not moved in recent years. Therefore, they believed that a major earthquake in California would occur soon. Now, with this discovery, they are rethinking their theories.
Scientists have recently determined that earthquakes can occur much deeper than they previously thought. They say that the new evidence suggests that earthquakes can start up to 15 miles below the earth’s crust. Since the depth of the new fault has yet to be determined, it is feasible that the Salton Trough Fault connects to the San Andreas Fault deep under the earth’s crust. Therefore, scientists say that they need more time to update their thinking and earthquake models.