NPR logo California More Overdue For 'Big One' Than Earlier Thought


California More Overdue For 'Big One' Than Earlier Thought

U.S. Geological Survey workers cover an earthquake monitoring station with dirt on the San Andreas Fault in a desert canyon near Thermal, Calif.,  in March 2009. Reed Saxon/AP hide caption

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Reed Saxon/AP

Scientists have long said that California is overdue for a massive earthquake along the San Andreas fault, the one spoken anxiously of as The Big One.

A new study in the scientific journal Geology (subscription required) suggests that the state may be even more overdue than was previously thought since earthquakes occur more frequently than was earlier believed.

An excerpt from a Los Angeles Times report:

"What we know is for the last 700 years, earthquakes on the southern San Andreas fault have been much more frequent than everyone thought," said UC Irvine researcher Sinan Akciz said in a statement. "Data presented here contradict previously published reports."

Added UCI researcher Lisa Grant Ludwig: "People should not stick their heads in the ground. There are storm clouds gathered on the horizon. Does that mean it's definitely going to rain? No, but when you have that many clouds, you think, 'I'm going to take my umbrella with me today.' That's what this research does: It gives us a chance to prepare."