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Earthquake
Photograph: Kelly Flanagan/Flickr

New study shows fault line could cause major earthquake reaching L.A., OC and San Diego counties

By
Leila Elihu
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A new study finds that it’s possible for a magnitude-7.4 earthquake to hit not one, but three Southern California counties—L.A., OC and San Diego. The likelihood of this happening is based on whether a quake ruptures along the Newport-Inglewood and Rose Canyon faults, which, though previously thought to be separate fault systems, are actually one continuous one.

Recent reports show the faults are a little over one mile apart, versus the three-miles scientists formerly reported, which puts them in the same zone, increasing the likelihood of an earthquake on one fault jolting the other. Though there was consensus among the scientific community that these two were actually one, it could never be proven until now.

So does this mean that Angelenos should pack there bags tonight and get as far away from sunny California as possible? Not necessarily. The chance of a 7.4 quake happening along the Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon fault is actually less likely than one along the more inland San Andreas fault. This is because the San Andreas is moving much faster—more than one inch per year—while the Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon is much slower at one-hundredth per year.

So who’s in the danger zone? According to the L.A. Times, the Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon begins by the northwest border of Beverly Hills and cuts through Inglewood, Carson, Long Beach, Signal Hill, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach before going below the ocean near the coasts of OC and San Diego counties. It then leaves the water to make its way through La Jolla and Coronado.

Chances are you already knew about California's shaky history before making the move to Los Angeles, so recent news of the possibility of a massive quake shouldn't be too revolutionary, but we would start putting together an emergency kit just in case.

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