Unprecedented movement detected on California earthquake fault capable of 8.0 temblor

From The LA Times

By Rong-Gong Lin II Staff Writer

Oct. 17, 2019 1:45 PM

A major California fault capable of producing a magnitude 8 earthquake has begun moving for the first time on record, a result of this year’s Ridgecrest earthquake sequence destabilizing nearby faults, Caltech scientists say in a new study released in the journal Science on Thursday.

In the modern historical record, the 160-mile-long Garlock fault on the northern edge of the Mojave Desert has never been observed to produce either a strong earthquake or even to creep.

But new satellite radar images now show that the fault has started to move, causing a bulging of land that can be viewed from space.

“This is surprising, because we’ve never seen the Garlock fault do anything. Here, all of a sudden, it changed its behavior,” said the lead author of the study, Zachary Ross, assistant professor of geophysics at Caltech. “We don’t know what it means.”

The creeping illustrates how the Ridgecrest quakes — the largest in Southern California in two decades — have destabilized this remote desert region of California between the state’s greatest mountain range, the Sierra Nevada, and its lowest point, Death Valley.

It also punctures a persistent myth that circulates in California and beyond — that quakes like the Ridgecrest temblors are somehow a good thing that makes future quakes less likely. In fact, earthquakes make future earthquakes more likely. Most of the time, the follow-up quakes are smaller. But occasionally, they’re bigger.

Not only has the Garlock fault begun to creep in one section, but there’s also been a substantial swarm of small earthquakes in another section of the fault, and two additional clusters of earthquakes elsewhere — one south of Owens Lake and the other in the Panamint Valley just west of Death Valley.

Whether the destabilization will result in a major quake soon cannot be predicted. In September, the U.S. Geological Survey said the most likely scenario is that the Ridgecrest quakes probably won’t trigger a larger earthquake. Nevertheless, the USGS said that the July quakes have raised the chances of an earthquake of magnitude 7.5 or more on the nearby Garlock, Owens Valley, Blackwater and Panamint Valley faults over the next year.

A large quake on the Garlock fault has the potential to send strong shaking to the San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita, Lancaster, Palmdale, Ventura, Oxnard, Bakersfield and Kern County, one of the nation’s most productive regions for agriculture and oil.

Important military installations could also get strong shaking, such as Edwards Air Force Base, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake and Fort Irwin National Training Center. The fault is crossed by two of Southern California’s most important supplies of imported water — the California and Los Angeles aqueducts — and critical roads like Interstate 5, state routes 14 and 58 and U.S. 395.

A major quake on the Garlock fault could then, in turn, destabilize the San Andreas. A powerful earthquake on a stretch of the roughly 300-mile-long southern San Andreas fault could cause the worst shaking the Southern California region has felt since 1857, and send destructive tremors through Los Angeles and beyond.

How the Ridgecrest quakes could move the Garlock and San Andreas faults

One plausible scenario involves the Ridgecrest quakes triggering a large temblor on the Garlock fault, which then triggers a seismic event on the San Andreas. The chances of such an event happening are small. Another plausible scenario, not mapped, involves a rupture of faults southeast of the Ridgecrest quakes.

(Jon Schleuss / Los Angeles Times)

Read the full article here.

HT/ozspeaksup

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87 thoughts on “Unprecedented movement detected on California earthquake fault capable of 8.0 temblor

  1. “But new satellite radar images now show that the fault has started to move, causing a bulging of land that can be viewed from space.”

    Shades of The Palmdale Bulge.

    But itt should be monitored.

    • Hopefully not a case of life imitating art. The H’wood flick San Andreas showed a vast cracking and 30′ separation of that fault as the Rock was trying to drive north to SF.

  2. I live 15 miles from the Garlock townsite. An 8 epicenter there would probably do the job the July 5 7.1 (13 miles) didn’t.

    But it’s Barstow that should be worried

    • “A major California fault capable of producing a magnitude 8 earthquake has begun moving for the first time on record.”
      “the 160-mile-long Garlock fault on the northern edge of the Mojave Desert has never been observed to produce either a strong earthquake or even to creep.”

      These two statements appears to be incongruent.
      How do they know the capability of a fault that has no historical record?

      • Rocketscientist, they sort of don’t and they sort of do. That is they interpret what type of fault the Garlock is then apply a fudge-factor assessment of how much energy the main faults are likely to deliver, then ask a lawyer what words to use so they will be innocent if someones house falls down, then say something. Look up a fault stress-strain diagram and hold it up to the animation and you can see the Garlock is not the main fault, it is an antithetic wrench fault (maybe in the act of converting to a step-over?).

        • So… they guess.
          Experts may be better than the layman at explaining things, but they are no better at predicting things.

  3. I don’t know if they have just decided to look at the satelite photos or if they look at them all the time and have noticed this movement recently. Not clear to me.

  4. Yes, worth monitoring.
    Also, speculation in the financial markets markets is setting up the equivalent of an earthquake.
    And as the saying goes about “safety nets”–“They will be as useless as a hardhat in a crowbar storm.”

  5. A major California fault capable of producing a magnitude 8 earthquake has begun moving for the first time on record

    well, obviously it’s because of climate change. /sarc

    If we’re lucky it’ll be the big one that finally causes California to crumble into the sea /also sarc…mostly

    • “If we’re lucky it’ll be the big one that finally causes California to crumble into the sea /also sarc…mostly”

      …Sorry John Endicot, that is not possible !

      California is protected by Bird Choppers, Solar Bird Fryers and a huge amount of green virtue signalling… In other words, shlt floats ! : )

    • The San Andreas fault is between two sections of California one of which is heading north, and the other heading south. Out to sea isn’t one of the options.

      • Who said anything about *out* to sea. It’s crumble *into* the sea. IE it breaks apart into small pieces and the sea flows in through the cracks and around the pieces to wash it away.

        (not that it matters, no one seriously believes the “big one” is capable of causing California to disappear no matter how much they may secretly, or nor so secretly, wish it to happen)

  6. Isn’t that little blue but just to the west of the Ridgecrest that dam just north of Chico which was in trouble a year or so ago?

    If I was downstream , I would be taking a trip out of state.

    • No that dam is in Northern California .. north of Sacramento and about 400-500 miles from the fault shown.

  7. Devastating earthquakes are a certainty in the future of California.

    BUT California does not have an “Earthquake Recovery Fund” accruing against THAT CERTAINTY.

    They will nuzzle at the big US mammary (the right mammary since the left one is “theirs”)…AGAIN…when the tragedy that they voluntarily elected to expose themselves to occurs.

    Strategically — Financially — Constitutionally, it would be best to LET THEM SECEDE…while keeping the San Diego Naval Base…we can move Air Force Bases.

    Subtracting 55 Blue Electoral Votes would preserve our freedoms for another century.

    • Actually, J Mac, tectonic activity is not chaotic, is certainly can be complicated. I got out my hand stress-strain diagram and aligned the right-lateral San Andreas faults, including the recent movement at Ridgecrest, and it is easy to see that the Garlock is a left-lateral antithetic wrench fault. The Garlock also appears to be transitioning into a step-over fault, as the San Andreas fault mechanics tend to migrate westward. It is very rare that the antithetic or step-over fault generates as much seismic results as the main faults. But, if your house is on top of it when it moves you will not appreciate the difference.

      • It is chaotic. It is insufficiently/incompletely characterized and or unwieldy, which precludes forecasts outside of a limited frame of reference.

  8. The whole plate seems to be about to separate. Could be much bigger than the “Big One.” Earth’s magnetic poles are in reversal phase and pulling the iron in the mantle into a new configuration. We’ve never seen anything like it for 700,000 years.

    • Yes, but we haven’t been watching the movements of the mantle for 700,000 years, so were where not likely to have seen anything like it , are we?

      What is the basis of your “phase reversal” , drift of the mag. N towards Russia?

      • The evidence for a magnetic field reversal has been the general weakening of the over all magnetic field over the last 100 years or so and the appearance of zones of reversed magnetic fields forming in several places around the world.

    • Yes mort, but do you remember that big one 750,000 years ago? And you must remember how the old folks at the time said – that’s nothing, you should have seen that gender-reversal event back in the Pliocene?

  9. “Most of the time, the follow-up quakes are smaller. But occasionally, they’re bigger.” Now there’s a definitive statement. Predicting earthquakes is like herding cats but if we collect enough data over time we may be able to forecast somewhat accurately. Or we could just model it now and scare the hell out of everyone around the fault zones and extract more money from the populace. Unlike what we’re doing to counteract the Climate we can actually plan with building codes, emergency response, and emergency shelters with earthquakes and achieve positive and meaningful results.

    • “Heap big warmy! Hot! Hot! Den boiling magma Hot! 2C HOT! All Peoples Die, Mahn!!!”
      Consensus Climate Change prediction.

  10. So California spends billions on wind farms and solar panels/Solar Thermal plants, but little in preparing for earthquakes. The models of CAGW impacts are sketchy at best, totally wrong at worst. And yet we cannot predict earthquakes.

    Just think of how much better off California would be if the billions spent on CAGW issues was spent on meaningful risks like earthquakes and health issues.

    • Yeah we should have them staple the faults by digging more holes deeper into the earth to anchor the two sides together like a zipper. It will work I tell you. /sarc

  11. Hey Greg, it may be you aren’t from the West. It takes a day to drive from Ridgecrest to Oroville, about 450 miles by road. Kudos for realizing it’s to the north and west. But, since the Sierra Nevada mountains are in the way, the flood would have to create a 13,000 foot high splash to get R/C wet. On the other hand, the East Sierra Fault Zone could be triggered, and so on up the state until eventually something near Mt Lassen lets go and lava rolls down into the snow. (might take a few millenia, but who’s counting?)

    • thanks but if you check I was not suggesting that the water from the dam would jump over the mountain range on the map but I suspect it may flow down into the central valley. I seem to recall last time Orville was looking shaky there was talk of the water flowing to LA if it failed catastrophically.

      If there is a mag 8 that may be enough to cause a breach even at 440m.

      Thanks for the geography update. You are correct , I’m not from the west coast.

  12. “… one of the nation’s most productive regions for agriculture and oil.”

    It’s economic value in the defense industry is far higher.

    Strawberry fields and green leaf lettuce farms around Bakersfield would recover. Broken irrigation ditches would be a problem for a bit though.
    Both agriculture and oil production can be replaced rather quickly from outside sources. It’s the infrastructure damage to places like Lockheed Skunkworks (Palmdale) and Naval Aviation test facilities at China Lake and Air Force test facilities at Edwards AFB that would be very costly to fix or replace.

    To give you an idea of what’s out there: just one (of many) such very expensive facilities is the Benefield Anechoic Facility at Edwards. At an internal chamber dimensions of (264′ x 250′ x 70′), a B-2 (wing span) or C-17 (height) size aircraft can comfortably sit inside this advanced facility for radar signature and RF equipment emissions testing. The B-2 LO testing was in fact the impetus and design case for the BAF in the late 1980’s requirements and design phase. This multi-billionaire dollar facility certainly has a structural engineered level of seismic hardening probably to M7. But it is unlikely to survive a M8+ quake as the structural damage would be so severe the structure would likely no longer be able to be repaired to meet RF shielding/leakage specs. I assume up to M7 (or less) is what it was designed to withstand with some level of damage up to that level.
    https://www.edwards.af.mil/About/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/828279/772nd-test-squadron-benefield-anechoic-facility-baf-anechoic-chamber/

    And then there is the massive aircraft assembly building at the SkunkWorks. I can’t even imagine what that would cost to replace or the damage to hardware inside if it even partially collapsed under a M8 quake.

  13. Well, always look for the silver lining. When the aquaducts are lost, and LA and Hollywood become deserted, think of how much CO2 emissions will drop.

    The CAGW crowd should be pleased.

  14. Time for a sequel to “The Rock”‘s 2015 movie “San Andreas”

    But, Dwayne you’ll need to hurry !

  15. Could this be true?? Many thanks 😀
    https://www.theregister.co.uk/AMP/2019/10/22/ozone_layer_hole_size/

    It’s all thanks to this year’s ‘unsually wonky’ polar vortex. The hole in Earth’s ozone layer is the smallest it has ever been since scientists discovered the puncture nearly 35 years ago, according to NASA.

    “It’s great news for ozone in the Southern Hemisphere,” said Paul Newman, chief scientist for Earth Sciences at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

    “But it’s important to recognize that what we’re seeing this year is due to warmer stratospheric temperatures. It’s not a sign that atmospheric ozone is suddenly on a fast track to recovery.”

  16. Everyone who owns a house in earthquake country needs to buy (not just borrow) two books. Most of the cost of strengthening a house to resist earthquakes—80% or more—is labor. A homeowner can do it himself, if he has the right tools and supplies, and knows the tricks of the trade.

    Earthquake Strengthening for Vulnerable Homes: A Practical Guide for Engineers, Contractors, Inspectors and Homeowners (Jun 5, 2015) by Thor Matteson, available for $37 at:
    https://www.amazon.com/Earthquake-Strengthening-Vulnerable-Homes-Contractors/dp/0990664503/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1549117105&sr=1-1&keywords=Earthquake+strengthening+for+vulnerable+homes

    Earthquake Retrofitting: The Book, $32 at:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1450710395/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

      • “Betcha it requires a permit.”

        That’s only if a professional does it. An homeowner has the option not to get a permit—but he should be sure he does everything according to code. (E.g., use the proper type and length of nails, screws, bolts, plywood, etc.) He can save tens of thousands of dollars.

        Just knowing what to ask and tell the contractor is very valuable, as is knowing the pros and cons of various options, and what to prioritize. Those one can get from the books.

        • An example of local ordinance covering renovations: “Permits are required for all structures that are to be repaired, altered, enlarged, improved upon or converted, or involving change in the size of a room or any electrical or plumbing work.” Requirements may vary from place to place. but this is typical of many areas.

          • That’s the letter of the law, but no one oths to get a permit when upgrading a light switch or fixing a leaky tap or changing a lock, etc.

  17. Sure, an 8.0 earthquake is possible, but climate change is an “existential threat” that can be solved by turning off your lights and riding a bicycle.
    /sarc

    • No, it will take surrendering your basic personal liberties and financial self-sufficiency to solve the Mann-made Climate Change crisis.
      That is unless you are a multi-millionaire or richer, then it means your exclusive chalets at the ski slopes of Aspen/St Moritz or the Yacht-delivered beaches of the Aegean are not “littered” with hordes of middle class peasants on holiday. The most frustrating thing in the world for a Rockefeller-clan or Kennedy-clan family must be to have to compete in the ski lift lines or quiet beaches in Aegean towns with the hordes of hoi polloi rolling out of tour coaches and cruise ships.

  18. Better shut down the power grid just in case.

    Think of the carbon savings of that “out of the abundance of caution” act.

    • I remember vividly when secret services used that argument for including an unverified Steele Dossier in their official report in 2016.

      As their job is to separate fake information from the real stuff, was it a dereliction of duty, or an outright sabotage?

  19. So, how much sea-level rise could be expected if California did break off and fall in the Pacific?
    Per a late’60s poster, “Goodbye San Andreas. It ain’t our fault!”

    • It’s not just direct taxation, but the gas blending requirements. A fact the Sacramento Marxists would prefer California voters not know about.

      Newsom is just trying to cover-up the fact that Cal’s gas prices are so high becasue the state imposes unique blending requirements, more equipment regulatory requirements on retailers, and a cap and trade tax.

      As for their gas taxes compared to the other western states:
      Cal: 0.42 (excise) + 0.28 (cap and trade) = 0.70/gal
      Arizona: 0.18/gal
      Nevada: 0.23/gal
      Oregon: 0.30/gal
      Washington: 0.375/gal
      Utah: 0.245/gal
      Wyoming: 0.23/gal

      So Cal’s gas tax (including the C&T tax) is double next-closest Washington state. Combine that 2X higher tax with unique blending requirements (which limits supply to only coming from in-state refineries), stricter equipment (tanks and nozzle-hose setups) regulatory compliance rules on gas retailers — Cal’s politicians have created the very environment that complain about.

      And although Oregon’s tax is “only” 0.30/gal, Oregon’s requirement that fuel retailers employ gas service attendants (i.e. no -self serve, a mandated jobs program for unskilled workers), that higher cost must be passed on to the consumer, so Oregon in effect isn’t too far behind most of Cal’s gas prices. Again due to political fiats.

      Here in SoAZ, where auto gas comes in via pipeline and also rail car direct from from El Paso/West Texas refineries, I filled-up on this past Monday at $2.51/gal. In Phoenix, gas prices there are around $3/gal because of more limited delivery options and higher demand.

      High energy costs are just another example of the Arsonist-Firefighter mentality of Cal’s Democrats. And it will just keep getting worse for Cal’s residents as Democrats in control get evermore demands from the unions and greenblob special interests for more tax money. Even in NortCal now with the high electricity prices and prospects of 10 years of PG&E black-outs, having an EV will just keep getting much more expensive too.

  20. If the Ridgecrest quakes and triggers a large temblor on the Garlock fault, it could help concentrate Californian minds back on real problems other than CO2 and Global Warming.

  21. Oh no, recorded moving for the first time evah! That’s unequivocally caused by fracking, because circumstantial evidence is all we need to base a politically correct paper on these days. But seriously, some researcher from Berkeley or Cornell will literally blame this on some anthropogenic activity in 3,2,1…

  22. God forbid it ever happens, but I wonder how well the area would deal with the aftermath of a major earthquake were they relying on windmills and solar panels as their principle source of energy?

    • We should recognize merit where it exists, there would be less risk if the Green blight transformed to the Green mush. However, the risk of other technologies can be managed and the effects mitigated when we follow best practices.

    • Are windmills rated for earthquake survival?. How about solar panels – will they stress fracture in a quake?

  23. There does seem to be a correlation between a quite sun volcanoes and earth quakes.
    The loss of the strength in the suns magnetic field makes the earths magnetic field loose strength and we get hit with more cosmic rays.
    Possibly other things we do not know about,but something seems to shake the world up.

  24. After that quake I looked at the area. Southern California has many faults. Unless they all go at once a quake on one is always going to move more stress to another. As long as the plates keep moving there will be quakes. I have always wondered why all the faults don’t go at the same time. You would think the movement of a major quake would set them all off at once.

  25. “It also punctures a persistent myth that circulates in California and beyond — that quakes like the Ridgecrest temblors are somehow a good thing that makes future quakes less likely. ”

    It’s not a myth, at least not completely. An earthquake makes a new (large) quake on the same fault less likely in the near future, but it could at the same time increase the strain on other faults, as in this case.

  26. The left-lateral slip of the Garlock fault depicted in the animation doesn’t readily jibe with the right-lateral slip of the San Andreas.

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