The next big earthquake in California may impact more people than scientists previously expected.
Seismologists have thought the massive San Andreas Fault would slip in Northern or Southern California. Not all at once because of a buffer called a creeping zone.
The creeping zone near the middle of the fault did not appear capable of transmitting a quake through the entire state because stress didn't build up there. But seismologist Kate Hutton at Caltech says new evidence reveals the San Andreas could slip from top to bottom.
"There would be damage in both San Francisco and Southern California,” Hutton said. “They would not be able to help us and vice versa."
The new evidence is coming from researchers looking at he 1999 Taiwan quake and the 2011 earthquake in Japan. Caltech experts say the creeping zones there were active.
"Some of the places where the rupture was the strongest was the creeping zone," Hutton said.
Researchers just published the findings. Information seismologists in California will now consider.