Los Angeles, brace yourself for a bigger earthquake: Scientists predict

By Vamien McKalin, Tech Times | January 28, 8:00 AM

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San Andreas Fault

A new study suggests that Los Angeles could experience bigger earthquakes in the future. An aerial photo of the San Andreas Fault in the Carrizo Plain, northwest of Los Angeles.
(Photo : Wikipedia)

A new study has shown that Los Angeles could experience bigger earthquakes in the future. Scientists are urging citizens in the region to brace themselves as their prediction could become reality. This finding is due to a new technique developed by scientists to predict future earthquakes.

Scientists believe that should major seismic activity occur to the city's south; then Los Angeles would experience stronger-than-anticipated ground movement. The new technique uses weak vibrations that are generated by the Earth's oceans to create what they call "virtual earthquakes." Scientist thinks this virtual earthquake can be used to predict shaking hazards and ground movement to buildings posed by real earthquake tremors, according to a statement by Stanford School of Earth Sciences associate director of communications, Ker Than.

"We used our virtual earthquake approach to reconstruct large earthquakes on the southern San Andreas Fault and studied the responses of the urban environment of Los Angeles to such earthquakes," said study lead author Marine Denolle, who recently received her doctorate in geophysics from Stanford and is now at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.

Furthermore, it is claimed that earthquakes are not the only things on this planet that create seismic waves.

"If you put a seismometer in the ground and there's no earthquake, what do you record? It turns out that you record something," Stanford geophysics professor and study leader Greg Beroza said.

The seismometer placed in the ground will allow the instrument to record a faint signal known as the ambient seismic field. This field is created when the ocean interacts with the solid Earth, according to the researchers.

"These seismic waves are billions of times weaker than the seismic waves generated by earthquakes that we are worried about," Beroza said. "But they propagate through the same earth and carry much the same information about it [as earthquake-related waves], so we can use these weaker waves to anticipate the behavior of the larger waves."

Marine Denolle, an earthquake seismologist, says that a number of seismometers have been installed on the San Andreas Fault to measure ambient waves.

"We used our virtual earthquake approach to reconstruct large earthquakes on the southern San Andreas Fault and studied the responses of the urban environment of Los Angeles to such earthquakes," Denolle said in a statement.

These findings have predicted that seismic waves traveling to Los Angeles would cause for stronger shaking that doesn't happen in normal conditions.

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