Is California next?

15 Tháng Ba 201112:00 SA(Xem: 18967)
Is California next?

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Is California next? Experts warn U.S. West Coast could be next victim of devastating earthquake on Pacific's 'Ring of Fire'

By Mark Duell
Last updated at 5:08 PM on 15th March 2011

The U.S. West Coast could be the next area shaken by a big earthquake, experts warned today.

The earthquakes last Friday in Japan, last month in New Zealand and last year in Chile all happened along the ‘Ring of Fire’ that encircles much of the Pacific Ocean.

Scientists believe the West Coast could be hit as part of a cluster of earthquakes, with a Pacific Northwest fault having similar characteristics to the one underneath Japan.

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Linked: Recent earthquakes in Japan, New Zealand and Chile all happened along the chain of large faults called 'Ring of Fire' that encircles much of the Pacific

Experts can't be certain where or when the next earthquake will be but the West Coast risk has increased because it is in the same volatile geological system.

‘The Pacific Northwest - what we call the Cascadia Subduction Zone - has the same kind of characteristics as the fault beneath Japan,’ seismologist James Gaherty told CBS.

 ‘We're worried about a large subduction zone similar to Japan,’ Mr Gaherty, of the Lamont Research Center at Columbia University, told CBS.

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The Ring of Fire is a chain of large faults associated with the Pacific plate’s interaction with surrounding plates, which can produce earthquakes and volcanoes.

Similar: The Cascadia Subduction Zone in the Pacific Northwest has many of the same characteristics as the fault beneath Japan

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California risk: The San Andreas and Cascadia are on the fourth 'corner' of the Ring of Fire 'square', which has already seen three earthquakes in 2010 and 2011

‘If you think of the Pacific plate as a square, we have had a major earthquake in the Northwestern side of that square (in Japan),’ author Simon Winchester told MSNBC.

‘On February 22 we had Christchurch in New Zealand in the Southwest of the square. Last year we had a major earthquake in Chile in the Southeast of that square.

‘The fourth leg of the square, the fourth side, is where the San Andreas and the Cascadia forms. That hasn't ruptured - if either (does) there could be major problems.’

The last time California’s San Andreas Fault ruptured was in 1906, when the area of San Francisco was devastated by an earthquake and fires.

‘California has significant risk - the San Andreas Fault,' he said. '(But) California, we're not going to get a big tsunami producing event. Pacific Northwest, we might.’

 
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Previous fault: California's San Andreas Fault last ruptured in 1906 when San Francisco was devastated by an earthquake and subsequent fires

Christchurch in New Zealand was rocked last month by a 6.3 quake that killed 166 people, and around 550 people died after Chile was hit in February 2010 by an 8.8.

Friday’s 8.9 earthquake was the highest ever recorded in Japan, compared to the 8.3 Great Kanto Earthquake in Tokyo in 1923, which killed more than 140,000 people.

Japan was better-prepared for last week’s earthquake thanks to strict urban building quakes, but there are always risks with the unpredictable nature of a quake’s location.

A big reason for Haiti’s death toll of 300,000 from the January 2010 quake - outside of the Ring of Fire - was the poor conditions and building codes, reported CBS.

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