Will California eventually fall into the ocean?
No, California is not going to fall into the ocean. California is firmly planted on the top of the earth’s crust in a location where it spans two tectonic plates. The San Andreas Fault System, which crosses California from the Salton Sea in the south to Cape Mendocino in the north, is the boundary between the Pacific Plate (that includes the Pacific Ocean) and North American Plate (that includes North America). These two plates are moving horizontally, slowly sliding past one another. The Pacific Plate is moving northwest with respect to the North American Plate at approximately 46 millimeters per year (the rate your fingernails grow). The strike-slip earthquakes on the San Andreas Fault are a result of this plate motion. There is nowhere for California to fall, however, Los Angeles and San Francisco will one day be adjacent to one another!
Why are we having so many earthquakes? Has naturally occurring earthquake activity been increasing? Does this mean a big one is going to hit? OR We haven't had any earthquakes in a long time; does this mean that the pressure is building up for a big one?
A new report issued by the American Red Cross and the U.S. Geological Survey documents the Chilean response and recovery efforts following the Feb. 2010 magnitude 8.8 earthquake and the lessons that California should learn from this disaster.
For the first time, geologists have extracted intact rock samples from 2 miles beneath the surface of the San Andreas Fault, the infamous rupture that runs 800 miles along the length of California.
Calling it "one of the most significant earthquakes in the history of seismology," William Ellsworth, chief scientist for the USGS Earthquake Hazards program in California, today commended efforts to densely instrument the location of the September 28th Parkfield 2004 Earthquake.
by Morgan Page, USGS Research Geophysicist
- Scientists cannot currently predict the precise time, location, and size of future damaging earthquakes.
- Historical records of earthquakes in California date back over 150 years.
- Geologists have dug trenches to extend the known history on some faults back to around 1,000 years before
Colorful vegetated clifftop near Half Moon Bay, California.
Homes along the edge of the coast in Isla Vista, California, Santa Barbara County, face a short lifespan because of eroding bluffs that support them.