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!
Solar flares and magnetic storms belong to a set of phenomena known collectively as "space weather". Technological systems and the activities of modern civilization can be affected by changing space-weather conditions. However, it has never been demonstrated that there is a causal relationship between space weather and...Read Full Answer
In the 4th Century B.C., Aristotle proposed that earthquakes were caused by winds trapped in subterranean caves. Small tremors were thought to have been caused by air pushing on the cavern roofs, and large ones by the air breaking the surface. This theory lead to a belief in earthquake weather, that because a large amount...Read Full Answer
The earliest reference we have to unusual animal behavior prior to a significant earthquake is from Greece in 373 BC. Rats, weasels, snakes, and centipedes reportedly left their homes and headed for safety several days before a destructive earthquake. Anecdotal evidence abounds of animals, fish, birds, reptiles, and insects...Read Full Answer
No, earthquakes of magnitude 10 or larger cannot happen. The magnitude of an earthquake is related to the length of the fault on which it occurs. That is, the longer the fault, the larger the earthquake. A fault is a break in the rocks that make up the Earth's crust, along which rocks on either side have moved past each...Read Full Answer
No. Neither the USGS nor any other scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake. We do not know how, and we do not expect to know how any time in the foreseeable future. An earthquake prediction must define 3 elements: 1) the date and time, 2) the location, and 3) the magnitude.
Yes, some people...Read Full Answer
Electromagnetic variations have been observed after earthquakes, but despite decades of work, there is no convincing evidence of electromagnetic precursors to earthquakes. It is worth acknowledging that geophysicists would actually love to demonstrate the reality of such precursors, especially if they could be used for...Read Full Answer
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.
Coastal ecosystem studies at Trinidad coast, California.
Photograph looks southwest onto the town of Pacifica, California and out to the Pacific Ocean, from Sweeney Ridge Trail.
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 today!
- We are learning more about the behavior of large earthquakes, such as the possibility for earthquakes to "link up" multiple geologic faults and the ability of one earthquake to trigger others.
- This information is being used to develop new, sophisticated earthquake forecasting models and to better determine the likely effects of future earthquake in California.
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.
Aerial photo of the San Andreas Fault in the Carrizo Plain. By Ikluft - Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3106006