Seismic experts are predicting that the San Andreas Fault could soon experience a flurry of earthquake activity.
The fault has been essentially dormant in recent years, but the extended period of quiet could be coming to an end.
"This time cycle is now rearing up again," said Henry Renteria of the Office of Emergency Services.
Recent studies by University of Oregon Geologist Ray Weldon suggest that the Southern California portion of the fault is at its highest level of strain in 1,500 years. Weldon believes the fault could release pent-up energy in a quake or series of quakes.
"Possibly we are the point of switching from a period of time with a relative paucity of large and frequent earthquakes," Weldon said Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America.
That's frightening news for the thousands of
Californians who live along the San Andreas Fault.
"It's one of the largest faults in the state and the larger the fault, the larger the earthquake it can generate," said Renteria.
The San Andreas runs the length of California, but some of the most notoriously unstable spots are right here in the Bay Area. In October of 1989 the Loma Prieta Earthquake caused so much damage in the area that experts are still talking about it.
"California is prone to earthquakes, this is something people should be aware of and people should take precautions to prepare for that," said Renteria.
Critics of Weldon's findings say the quakes could be random, and warned against the prediction of quake clusters.
"It's human to look at these things and see patterns," said seismologist John Adams.
Scientists from the Geological Survey expect
further excavations along the fault to provide a more through understanding of
the history of activity along the San Andreas Fault.
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