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So when researchers detected strange seismic activity along a major California fault line this week, it prompted a familiar question: Is the Big One coming? The bulging of the Garlock fault line in California can be seen from space and it's moving in ways never seen before, raising the question for Californians if it raises the risk of "The Big One." Relatively few communities lie directly along the Garlock, as it is primarily situated in the desert, with Frazier Park, Tehachapi, Mojave, and Johannesburg being the closest to it. Instead of focusing on isolated quakes or bursts of minor seismic activity, most scientists agree that it's best to simply assume the Big One could arrive any minute. "The satellites are sensitive enough that they can measure the tiniest amounts of deformation" in the ground, Zachary Ross, the lead author of the recent study, told Business Insider. © ScienceAlert Pty Ltd. All rights reserved. Those quakes - a 6.4-magnitude temblor on July 4, followed by a 7.1-magnitude quake the next day - originated along two other fault lines nearby. These events, as well as continuing microearthquake activity and the state of the scarps from previous ruptures, do indicate that the Garlock will produce another major quake at some point in the future. The fault has slipped 0.8 inches (2 centimeters) at the surface since July, the scientists said. Even if the earthquakes were to trigger more creeping, that wouldn't necessarily spell disaster. Stretching for 250 kilometers (160 mi), it is the second-longest fault in California, and one of the most prominent geological features in the southern part of the state. The Garlock fault is just creeping at a slow pace, without any shaking going on. But thus far, the Garlock Fault hasn’t otherwise budged. Creep on the Garlock Fault following the … "If the path that the radar takes is even slightly different, we can tell.". In the modern historical record, the 160-mile-long Garlock fault on the northern edge of the Mojave Desert has never been observed to produce either a strong earthquake or even to creep. As detailed in the journal Science, the tremors from the earthquake sequence triggered a chain reaction of slips and shocks along the Garlock Fault. The fault is capable of producing a magnitude 8 earthquake, though it’s currently moving at a slow, continuous pace – a process known as “creeping”. But then again, "it is absolutely possible that it could trigger an earthquake nearby," he said. In many cases, Allen said, creep reduces the strain on fault lines. The Garlock Fault: Southern ... a state known as fault creep and producing a bulge in the land of dirt by satellite radar images in July 2019. The Garlock Fault moves at a rate of between 2 and 11 mm a year, with an average slip of around 7 millimeters. The discovery marks the first observation, through modern recording tools, of the fault’s “creep,” which is the slow movement of a fault. Why it matters: The fault is capable of producing an 8.0 magnitude earthquake, but it has never previously produced a strong quake or creep. The following day, the town of Hollister got a magnitude-4.7 quake. "It's not really clear what this could mean," he said. Following a series of earthquakes on nearby minor faults in late July 2019, the Garlock Fault was observed moving about 2 cm (0.8 in)[6] between July and October accompanied by numerous minor earthquakes, a state known as fault creep, and producing a bulge in land observed by satellite radar images. Aseismic creep is slip on a fault that does not produce the shaking or seismic waves associated with earthquakes. The Garlock Fault moves at a rate of between 2 and 11 mm a year, with an average slip of around 7 millimeters. In fact, the Hollister earthquake occurred near "the creeping section" of the San Andreas Fault, she added. Creep on the Garlock Fault following the Ridgecrest earthquakes was shallow, occurring from the surface to around 300 feet below ground. While most of the fault is locked, certain segments have been shown to move by aseismic creep, which is motion without resulting earthquakes. Add the satellite info to measurements taken from seismometers and scientists now have an accurate picture of what’s happening. The Garlock Fault, which runs 185 miles from the San Andreas Fault to Death Valley, has not moved much over the past 500 years, the study said. No one living in that area has really noticed it. The Garlock Fault has not produced large earthquakes since instrument-keeping began—at least a century—but is considered … Wendy Bohon, a geologist at the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, told Business Insider that these recent earthquakes are "nothing to be overly concerned about," though. The fault is capable of producing a magnitude 8 earthquake, though it's currently moving at a slow, continuous pace - a process known as "creeping". On Thursday, scientists released a study warning that the Garlock fault, which runs through the Mojave Desert in southern California, has been moving for the first time on record. The Garlock Fault is believed to have developed to accommodate the strain between the extensional tectonics of the Great Basin crust and the right lateral strike-slip faulting of the Mojave Desert crust.[1]. [6][7][8], Learn how and when to remove this template message, series of earthquakes in the Ridgecrest area, "Seismicity of the Garlock fault, California", "Scientists: Movement Detected Along California Fault That Could Cause an 8-Magnitude Earthquake", "The Big One could trigger series of large earthquakes, study finds", "Unprecedented Movement on Mojave Desert Fault Capable of Magnitude 8.0 Earthquake: Caltech Study", "Unprecedented movement detected on California earthquake fault capable of 8.0 temblor", "Hierarchical interlocked orthogonal faulting in the 2019 Ridgecrest earthquake sequence", Southern California Earthquake Data Center: Faults in Southern California, Rescue Lineament-Bear Mountains fault zone, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Garlock_Fault&oldid=980078844, Natural history of Kern County, California, Natural history of Los Angeles County, California, Natural history of San Bernardino County, California, Articles needing additional references from August 2020, All articles needing additional references, All articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases, Articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases from November 2016, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 24 September 2020, at 13:40. That has happened "several times in the last decade," he added, "and then it just stops creeping at some point.". These facts, along with the freshness of scarps left behind from previous ruptures and the on-going seismicity associated with the fault zone, leave little doubt that the Garlock fault zone will rupture again in the future. The fault is capable of producing a magnitude 8 earthquake, though it's currently moving at a slow, continuous pace - a process known as "creeping". After the 2019 events, a very shallow portion of the Garlock slipped slowly, a process known as ‘creep’, perhaps in response to the stress imparted by the Ridgecrest earthquakes, or perhaps due to the ground shaking. Scientists expect to experience this "Big One" in their lifetimes - though they're not sure where or when. Unlike most of the other faults in California, slip on the Garlock Fault is left-lateral; that is, the land on the other side of the fault moves to the left from the perspective of someone facing the fault. It now has begun a process called fault creep and has slipped 0.8 inch since July, the research found. In some cases, it can cause the land to bulge, which can damage buildings and infrastructure - but Allen said that's still preferable to an earthquake. Researchers were able to spot the creeping along the Garlock fault using satellite radar imagery, which can detect movements in the Earth from space. "Earthquakes, both large and small, are part of life in California," Bohon said. "The southern end of the San Andreas has often started creeping in response to other earthquakes," Ross said. Research has pinned the interval between significant ruptures on the Garlock as being anywhere between 200 and 3,000 years, depending on the segment of the fault. Both earthquakes and creep occur when tectonic plates side slide past each other along a fault. "This was the first time that we'd seen this happen.". "If a fault is creeping, that means there is less movement to be accommodated in an earthquake.". Aftershocks of the magnitude 7.1 earthquake near Ridgecrest have been creeping into areas close to two major earthquake faults, sparking concern. At any moment, an earthquake of magnitude 6.7 or higher could ripple through California, leading infrastructure to topple, power to shut off, and buildings to collapse. The reason for this sudden change, according to the study, was destabilization caused by the Ridgecrest earthquakes in July. Martin Granite sequence for the Ridgecrest Earthquakes, The findings were solid that stress from that earthquake shock West to the Garlock East to Las Vegas. Instead, the Garlock fault underwent postseismic creep and exhibited a sizeable earthquake swarm. "It's always unusual to have two magnitude-4.5 earthquakes in one week in California," Allen said. On Monday, the San Francisco Bay Area town of Pleasant Hill experienced a magnitude 4.5 quake that was strong enough to knock bottles from store shelves. [3], The last significant ruptures on the Garlock were thought to be in the years 1050 AD and 1500 AD. The difference is that creep is slow enough not to produce shaking. While most of the fault is locked, certain segments have been shown to move by aseismic creep, [which?] "Creep is our friend," he said. In the modern historical record, the 160-mile-long Garlock fault on the northern edge of the Mojave Desert has never been observed to produce either a strong earthquake or even to creep… "We don't understand the physics of the process.". While most of the fault is locked, certain segments[which?] The northeast- to east-striking Garlock fault of southern California is a major strike-slip fault with a left-lateral displacement of at least 48 to 64 km. On Thursday, scientists released a study warning that the Garlock fault, which runs through the Mojave Desert in southern California, has been moving for the first time on record. The Garlock is not considered to be a particularly active fault, seldom producing any shaking detectable by humans, although it has been known to generate sympathetic seismic events when triggered by other earthquakes and in one instance by the removal of ground water. Other Notes: The Garlock fault zone is one of the most obvious geologic features in southern California, clearly marking the northern boundary of the area known as the Mojave Block, as well as the southern ends of the Sierra Nevada and the valleys of the westernmost Basin and Range province. Thus, the terrain north of the fault is moving westward and that on the south is moving eastward. Creep is relatively common among California faults, including the San Andreas fault, which scientists have pinpointed as the likely source of The Big One. On Thursday, scientists released a study warning that the Garlock fault, which runs through the Mojave Desert in southern California, has been moving for the first time on record. It is named after the historic mining town of Garlock, founded in 1894 by Eugene Garlock and now a ghost town. The fault has been relatively quiet for the past 500 years, but the strain placed on the Garlock Fault by July's earthquake activity triggered it to start slowly moving, a process call fault creep. On Thursday, scientists released a study warning that the Garlock fault, which runs through the Mojave Desert in southern California, has been moving for the first time on record. The discovery marks the first observation, through modern recording tools, of the fault’s “creep,” which is the slow movement of a fault. An analysis of a large series of earthquakes that rocked Southern California earlier this summer shows that a major fault line quiet for 500 years is now slowly slipping. relatively common among California faults, A group of 17 progressive Democrats is pushing for $2,000 stimulus checks to be in the next coronavirus relief package, The $300 Xbox Series S is out now, and there's limited stock online at Best Buy - here's a full breakdown of purchase options, MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon's Jeff Bezos, gave away more than $4 billion over the last 4 months to help those impacted economically by the pandemic, A security expert reportedly warned SolarWinds in 2019 that anyone could access the company's update server with the password 'solarwinds123', Christopher Nolan's 'Tenet' is now available to stream on VOD services - here's how to watch the sci-fi film at home. Still, Ross said, his team was surprised by their results. Ruptures in the Ridgecrest earthquake sequence ended a few miles from the Garlock Fault, which runs east-west for 185 miles from the San Andreas Fault to Death Valley. [2], A study published in October 2019 in the journal Science indicated that a part of the Garlock fault slipped after being triggered by the series of earthquakes in the Ridgecrest area which occurred in July 2019. “It’s surprising because we haven’t seen [the Garlock fault] do that before,” Zachary Ross, an assistant professor of geophysics at Caltech and one of the study’s co-authors, tells TIME. "We know that faults talk to one another," Richard Allen, the director of the Seismological Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, told Business Insider. Recent aftershocks have headed southeast toward the Garlock fault, a lesser-known fault capable of … The Garlock Fault has been relatively quiet for 500 years. At least one fsection of the fault has shown movement by creep in recent years. On Thursday, scientists released a study warning that the Garlock fault, which runs through the Mojave Desert in southern California, has been moving for the first time on record. The Garlock Fault moves at a rate of between 2 and 11 mm a year, with an average slip of around 7 millimeters. The dynamic details of the rupture process during the mainshock are largely unknown, as is the amount of stress needed to bring the Garlock fault to failure. California has experienced a small spate of seismic activity in recent weeks, which has coincided with the 30th anniversary of the magnitude-6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake that damaged the Bay Bridge in 1989. "The two Ridgecrest earthquakes were fairly large-magnitude earthquakes and they're fairly close to the Garlock fault, so the change that they caused in the stress fields would obviously have an impact.". "It's up to all of us to be prepared.". [5] It is thought to have been triggered by the Landers earthquake, just two weeks earlier. People survey the earthquake damage to roads in the Ridgecrest area. [4] The most recent notable event in the Garlock Fault Zone was a magnitude 5.7 near the town of Mojave on July 11, 1992. The team found these events at Ridgecrest created a large amount of stress on the nearby Garlock fault segment. Advertisement The fault is capable of producing a magnitude 8 earthquake, though it’s currently moving at a slow, continuous pace – a process known as “creeping”. The Garlock Fault is a left-lateral strike-slip fault running northeast–southwest along the north margins of the Mojave Desert of Southern California, for much of its length along the southern base of the Tehachapi Mountains. The Garlock fault hasn’t ruptured in a … [5] However, no surface slippage of the fault itself had been recorded in modern times until 2019. which is motion without resulting earthquakes.. "But the effect of the stress change caused by those two earthquakes is pretty minimal.". But satellite imagery is so precise that it can measure the movement. The 160-mile-long Garlock fault in California has shown movement for the first time on the modern historical record, according to a study published Thursday by the California Institute of Technology. have been shown to move by aseismic creep, which is motion without resulting earthquakes. [3] Reports in the Los Angeles Times indicated that a magnitude 8 earthquake along the Garlock fault would have the potential for grave disaster. It marks the northern boundary of the area known as the Mojave Block, as well as the southern ends of the Sierra Nevada and the valleys of the westernmost Basin and Range province. These include the Hayward fault in the east side of San Francisco Bay, the Calaveras fault just to the south, the creeping segment of the San Andreas fault in central California, and part of the Garlock fault in southern California. The many strike-slip faults of California include several that are creeping. 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