Fault Could Cause 'Quake From Hell' in LA
Puente Hills bigger threat to LA than San Andreas
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2014 4:51 AM CDT
Updated Mar 31, 2014 7:39 AM CDT
Merchandise is strewn across the floor in a La Habra Walgreens following Friday night's 5.1 earthquake.   (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Blaine, Ohigashi)

(Newser) – The San Andreas fault is famous, but the lesser-known fault that caused Friday night's 5.1 earthquake could be the one that delivers the "Big One" that devastates Los Angeles, experts warn. The Puente Hills fault runs under downtown Los Angeles into Hollywood, near many older buildings, and the US Geological Survey estimates that a 7.5 quake along the fault could kill up to 18,000 people and cause up to $250 billion in damage, the AP finds. An even stronger quake along the San Andreas would be less damaging, experts say.

A major quake along the fault "would be very damaging to central Los Angeles," the director of the Southern California Earthquake Center tells CBS. "An earthquake engineer once told me this could be the earthquake from Hell." He warns that quakes like Friday's don't relieve the pressure along faults, but are "actually associated with bigger earthquakes." In the area hardest-hit by Friday's quake and more than 100 aftershocks, no serious injuries have been reported but officials have yet to release damage estimates, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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Showing 3 of 72 comments
2cent
Apr 1, 2014 2:17 AM CDT
If Kim Kardashian's aasss bumped into Oprah's, could it set-off the fault ?
FarmerMichael
Mar 31, 2014 11:38 PM CDT
Faults that don't have little quakes every now and then are the real killers. That New Madrid quake of 1811 was 8 times the San Francisco quake that destroyed much of that city....because it was not in an area that had lots of little ones. Who thinks of the Mid-west as home of huge earthquakes....yet that one would have been felt over 50,000 square miles.
Ezekiel 25:17
Mar 31, 2014 9:57 PM CDT
You didn't see the old buildings collapse in this earthquake due to work that has been done in the past 20 years. Brick buildings are reinforced in many different ways that include a shellac spray that makes them stronger. Tall buildings all ride on large springs. Many of them have liquid filled stabilizers operated by high rate pumps. Computers determine the frequency of the shaking and counter it by moving liquids through the building. I think the best thing to live in during a huge quake is a mobile home. As long as the ground doesn't open up and eat it, you are fine. Better yet an RV. I know people who live full time in RV's and they have the benefit of having a suspension system. They often don't even feel up to a 4.0. I was in an RV for a 5.1 and it moved a little side to side. I only confirmed it when Facebook and twitter exploded. I remember the Lome Prieta quake where the highway collapsed on people. They showed the same double deck highway in Tokyo where it had improved connectors that prevented such a collapse. There was the horror of the 3-story apartment that became a 2-story in just moments. Then the analysis that much of the damage was in areas built on the landfill created from the 1906 tragedy. It made liquefaction so easy and why that apartment collapsed the way it did. It was the same thing that happen in the Mexico City quake. Adobe buildings built on old Lake Texcoco just turned to powder. All of the western built major brand hotels stood firm with the exception of one of the burning down. If I remember right, the kitchen caught fire. The relief workers sent there stayed in many of the luxury resorts. This was prior to FEMA, HHS, and it was a time when countries took advantage of US relief efforts. With as many people that we sent to Mexico City for relief work, they charged resort rate prices and even hit big trucks with tariffs on relief supplies shipped in. To make things worse, The Vatican was deeply offended with efforts of Mormans and Baptists who flooded Mexico City with relief teams. The Baptists alone sent trucks and crews filled with mass feeding gear and staff. They cooked 24/7 making meals for impoverished people who lost everything. The first few meals they cooked fell flat on approval though. Then some ladies shows up and said people needed to eat a more Mexican diet. So a lot of them talked farmers into letting them have fresh spices and chilis. So the military style scrambled eggs became huevos rancheros. The team was already good at cooking beans as they cooked 100lbs at a time in one kettle and they had a dozen kettles going all the time. The ladies spiked all those kettles with fresh chilis. Hey, that's my favorite way now to make brown beans. Eventually all the US based cooks rotated back home and the Baptists started enlisting an all Mexican cooking force. But one day a high up politician with Mexico said the Pope was offended the Baptists had made serious inroads into the city where the Roman Catholic Church had exclusive rights in the past. It didn't help that the Baptists were rebuilding people's homes, community centers and also putting up new seed churches. So, the order came down from the Vatican, the Baptists and Mormans had to shut down relief efforts and leave. But the Baptists never give up that easily. Instead of folding up, they left tons of mobile kitchen gear. They turned the entire operation over to local Mexican born Baptist preachers. All US citizens eventually left and the Vatican carries a deep grudge ever since then.