We all know that earthquakes happen frequently, especially those who live in California. The state is well known for the San Andreas Fault, which slices California in two from Cape Mendocino to the Mexican border.
Approximately 112 years have passed since the fault erupted. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck the North Coast at 5:12 a.m. on April 18 with a magnitude of 7.9, leading to more than 3,000 deaths and half of the city’s 400,000 residents homeless. Based on the records of past earthquakes and studies of earthquake faults, Southern California has a big earthquake every 110 to 140 years.
Seismologists say that the state is overdue for a massive earthquake that could kill hundreds of lives. Furthermore, there is a high probability that California will be rocked by a strong earthquake within the next thirty years. The odds of the chance happening are higher in Southern California than Northern California, 97% versus 93%.
Earthquakes, which occur when two tectonic plates rub against each other, are difficult to predict and impossible to prevent. However, experts believe that the small earthquakes that have been happening over the years are a sign that the Big One is yet to come. They have also discovered unexpected movements under the San Andreas Fault as another warning. The researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst studied thousands of small earthquakes near the fault and found that they moved differently to how a big earthquake along the San Andreas Fault would. While experts do not know when the catastrophic earthquake will happen, they do know where it will hit. Since the fault runs through San Francisco, the impact of a northern earthquake would be tremendous. A southern earthquake would strike a little further away from Los Angeles, so the impact would be smaller.
Kaiden Bae, a seventh grader at La Canada High School, says, “Over the years, I saw a lot of news about the next huge earthquake in California. It will definitely cause a lot of destruction, causing large amounts of money needed for repair. Due to the areas that the San Andreas Fault runs through, many lives and cities are at risk. Since I live in California, I have experienced a couple of small rumbles which lasted for a few of seconds. But the thought of having an earthquake with a large magnitude in my life frightens me.”
The Big One is inevitable, but we do not know when it will occur. It can happen tomorrow or it can happen twenty years from now.
Holly Bae, Grade 9
La Cañada High School