Earthquake Experts: Looming 'Big One' Is Getting Bigger
Could release twice the energy of last major rupture
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2010 2:48 PM CDT
Layers of earthquake-twisted ground are seen at dusk where the 14 freeway crosses the San Andreas Fault on June 28, 2006 near Palmdale, California.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Forget “The Big One” and start calling it “The Even Bigger One”: Recent reports suggest that the long-overdue (and “big”) rupture predicted along California’s San Andreas fault could be much worse than previously thought, and significantly stronger than the last major earthquake. Specifically, it could be as strong as 8.1 and as long as 340 miles—the full length of the fault from Monterey County to the Salton Sea, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The last major rupture along the San Andreas, in 1857, measured an estimated 7.9 and ruptured 200 miles of the fault; a quake like the one described above would release twice the energy of the 1857 rupture. Until recently, experts thought one portion of the southern part of the fault would stay dormant for another 100 years or more, but an August report indicates that portion is also overdue for a big quake, meaning “the next earthquake could be sooner than later,” says one expert. For more on "The Big One," click here.