The discovery of the fault line could produce better predictions of devastating earthquakes in the California region
Geologists have discovered a new fault line in San Andreas near to the Sans Andreas Fault and are not sure yet how dangerous it could potentially be to the Californian region.
The new fault line named the Salton Trough Fault runs along the eastern edge of the Salton Sea and was undetected by seismologists due to it being located underwater.
The research was carried out by scientists from University of California, San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the University of Nevada, Reno’s Nevada Seismological Laboratory who extensively studied evidence of deformation that pointed heavily to a possible undiscovered fault line.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, it’s this new fault line that could explain why an overdue earthquake hasn’t occurred for the past 300 years. This is because the Salton Trough Fault may be taking the strain from the infamous Sans Andreas Fault but it is unknown how this affects the ultimate occurrence of an earthquake.
“Based on the deformation patterns, this new fault has accommodated some of the strain from the larger San Andreas system, so without having a record of past earthquakes from this new fault, it’s really difficult to determine whether this fault interacts with the southern San Andreas Fault at depth or in time,” said Nevada State Seismologist Graham Kent, a coauthor of the study and former Scripps researcher. “The extended nature of time since the most recent earthquake on the Southern San Andreas has been puzzling to the earth sciences community,”
The good news is that seismologists may now have a better understanding of how faults interact with each other and could potentially help refine earthquake prediction models.
Small tremors were detected recently near the south point of the Sans Andreas Fault and experts believe it could indicate a high probability of intense earthquakes in the future however, the small quakes were not linked to the finding of the new fault.
Details of the research were published in the journal Bulletin the of Seismological Society of America.