Will California Fall Into the Ocean?

The USGS answers the age old question.

By Mathew Luschek
|  Thursday, Apr 7, 2011  |  Updated 4:39 PM PDT
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Will California Fall Into the Ocean?

San Francisco and Los Angeles may one day be neighbors. This rendition of the fate of the Golden State courtesy of "2012."

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With all the earthquake talk going around over the past month, some people still might be concerned about our state falling into the Pacific.

The USGS has addressed this burning question on their FAQ page.

Q: Will California eventually fall off into the ocean?

A: No. The San Andreas Fault System, which crosses California from the Salton Sea in the south to Cape Mendocino in the north, is the boundary between the Pacific Plate and North American Plate. The Pacific Plate is moving northwest with respect to the North American Plate at approximately 46 millimeters per year (the rate your fingernails grow). The strike-slip earthquakes on the San Andreas Fault are a result of this plate motion. The plates are moving horizontally past one another, so California is not going to fall into the ocean. However, Los Angeles and San Francisco will one day be adjacent to one another!

Another important question answered on the page is, "Where can I buy a Richter Scale?"

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