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Earthquake
Photograph: Kelly Flanagan/Flickr

'Quake swarm' leads to official earthquake advisory and potential 'monster' quake

By
Brittany Martin
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Earthquakes are notoriously difficult to predict, so we don’t want to freak you out too much, but there is cause to be extra prepared for the next week or so. Seismologists have issued an official warning that a significant earthquake along the San Andreas fault might be in the immediate future.

You might have heard about a "quake swarm" earlier this week, with multiple smaller-magnitude quakes shaking the area near the Salton Sea in quick succession. That’s causing some alarm for scientists. A similar scenario in the same region took place in 1987. In that instance, the swarm trigged a 6.6 magnitude quake on a fault six miles from the epicenter of the swarm. In this week’s activity, the San Andreas is less than four miles from the swarm’s tectonic energy, according to the L.A. Times

The worst-case scenario that scientists’ models have played out for this could be a 7.8 magnitude "monster" earthquake which would have Los Angeles actively shaking for an entire minute. For comparison, the 1994 Northridge earthquake was only felt for seven seconds.

This earthquake advisory will remain in effect until 9am on October 4. As time passes and the energy built up by the quake swarm begins to dissipate, the likelihood of a large earthquake on the San Andreas diminishes.

While there may very well end up being no significant earthquake this week, maybe take a second this weekend to check your emergency supplies and make sure you’re prepared for whenever something does happen, because sooner or later, we all know it will.

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