According to the Los Angeles Times, some seismologists fear the Mexicali 7.2 earthquake of last April has increased the chances of additional earthquakes occurring in Southern California over the next couple of years.
While accurate earthquake prediction remains an elusive goal, scientists are making progress on figuring out the interactions of fault lines and the factors that suggest a heightened threat of quakes.
The past several days have seen several high profile articles in the Los Angeles papers about this increased risk, including:
Experts say April's 7.2 quake put more pressure on the San Jacinto fault, triggering the 5.4-magnitude temblor that shook much of Southern California on Wednesday. It rattled nerves but caused no major damage.
July 8, 2010 | 9:01 am
California earthquake experts have been saying for weeks that the 7.2 temblor on Easter Sunday in Mexicali had placed pressure on two Southern California fault lines -- the Elisnore and the San Jacinto -- making quakes there more likely.
They proved prescient.
July 9, 2010 | 5:25 pm
There is growing concern among seismologists that the 7.2 Mexicali earthquake April 4 placed more pressure on Southern California's faults, resulting in increased quake activity over the last three months.
The latest evidence was Wednesday's magnitude 5.4 Collins Valley earthquake that rolled from the mountains south of Palm Springs, leaving no major damage but rattling nerves throughout the region.
Earthquakes in California and the Pacific Northwest are like Hurricanes in Florida. Little ones happen fairly often, but really bad ones – thankfully – are rare.
But they do happen. And when they do, they can have devastating results.
An adverse side effect of these being rare events is that most people become complacent about preparing for them.
John Solomon wrote last week on his always excellent In Case of Emergency blog about efforts by Orange County, California officials to encourage disaster preparations in:
A Promising Preparedness Idea From The OC: Residents Of Orange County Being Asked To “Promise To Prepare” For Disaster
This creative new initiative comes in response to the frustration officials have had making inroads on citizen readiness, highlighted by a study that found while more than 90% of Orange County residents are aware that emergency preparedness is important, 93% have made little or no preparations.
It’s a good article, so I’d invite you to read the whole thing.
Much of the United States (and the world) is susceptible to seismic events. And Southern California is certainly no exception.
While it may be a long time before the next major earthquake strikes a populated region of the United States, it will happen.
And when it does, it will have been better to have been prepared for years in advance rather than being a single day late.
For more on earthquake and general disaster preparedness, you might wish to look at these essays as well.