San Diego

Local Seismologist Explains San Diego's Faults

Dr. Kilb said the best thing we can do is not be scared of earthquakes but be prepared for them.

Seismologists at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography are studying the Ridgecrest earthquakes and the damage left behind. As scientists analyze data, they’re also keeping a close eye on other faults around Southern California.

In the trails of Tecolote Canyon Park, behind the baseball fields, is a sign. The sign is not memorializing a historical event or a place. Instead, the sign sits on an earthquake fault.

"We live in earthquake country, and earthquakes happen all the time, and they will often be a surprise,” says Dr. Debbi Kilb, a seismologist from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Dr. Kilb knows all about the Rose Canyon Fault. She says on the scale of concern, San Diego's largest fault doesn't worry her.

"If someone said Debbi, 'We want you to do yearlong seismicity only looking at earthquakes', I would go there's only a handful, what am I going to do for a year? There's just not enough for me to learn something from a seismological point of view," Dr. Kilb says.

If there was an earthquake on the Rose Canyon Fault, seismologists say older buildings would collapse, freeways would be damaged, and there would be fires. For now, other faults are of more concern.

"The main ones we worry about are the San Andreas of course that you've heard about, the San Jacinto where we have magnitude five's every few years or so and the Elsinore fault," said Dr. Kilb.

As for the quakes in Ridgecrest, Dr. Kilb said that after so many years of not having a major earthquake, seismologists finally have new data to analyze.

"This was just a joy. I heard the earthquake, I could pull up the seismograms, and I could pull anything I wanted to. I could go look at what the seismicity map is, take it down to small magnitudes; it was heaven. I couldn't do that 20-years ago," Dr. Kilb said.

Dr. Kilb said the best thing we can do is not be scared of earthquakes but be prepared for them.

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