Expert Explains Recent String of Quakes

Local professor says there's no cause for alarm in San Diego

By Sarah Grieco
|  Tuesday, Feb 14, 2012  |  Updated 3:43 PM PDT
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What You'll Find Along the San Andreas Fault

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The Richter scale demonstrates seismic waves during an earthquake.

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There has been a lot of fault line activity in California within the last week, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

A 5.6 earthquake rattled an unincorporated part of Humboldt County yesterday afternoon, and a 4.9 temblor struck near the U.S.-Mexico border early Tuesday morning. There have also been a few medium-sized quakes in Northern California since Feb. 9.

Despite the increased fault line activity throughout the state, San Diego State professor Dr. Pat Abbott said it’s no cause for alarm.

The earthquakes throughout the last week have been occurring on different fault lines, as opposed to one focused area.

“It’s better if they are popping around on different faults,” he said. “If they were lining up and concentrating, then you might think it’s a foreshock.”

Abbott said if there are multiple earthquakes on one line, it could mean it’s a warning sign for a future quake – but not always.

“Even if [temblors] are lining up on the same fault, it doesn’t mean anything is gonna happen,” he said. “Although I’d consider the possibility.”

While there hasn’t been a large quake in San Diego since April 2010, the Elsinore fault line in the county is overdue for a large quake, Abbott said.

“It could happen tomorrow afternoon, or 50 years from now, “ he said. “We know what and where, but we can’t know when.”
 

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