A Major Earthquake Fault in California Just Woke Up

Garlock Fault showing activity for first time in modern history after this summer's tremors
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2019 10:19 AM CDT
In this July 7, 2019, file photo, a visitor takes a photo of a crack in the ground following recent earthquakes near Ridgecrest, Calif.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

(Newser) – You've heard of the San Andreas Fault. Meet the smaller, lesser-known Garlock Fault, also in California. It hasn't gotten many headlines over the years because the Garlock has been essentially sleeping for the past 500 years or so. But after the summer's two major quakes in and around Ridgecrest, things have changed. In Science, researchers say the Garlock has begun moving for the first time on record. Alarming news? Not necessarily, but scientists are tuned in, given the theoretical chance that a major tremor on the Garlock could set off an even more destructive quake on the San Andreas. Details:

  • The creep: The bigger of the Ridgecrest quakes, one that measured 7.1 on July 5, ended just a few miles from the Garlock Fault. Satellite radar now shows that the Garlock has begun to "creep" for the first time on record. "This is surprising, because we've never seen the Garlock Fault do anything," Zachary Ross of Caltech, lead author of the study, tells the Los Angeles Times. "Here, all of a sudden, it changed its behavior. We don't know what it means."

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