Back in May, earthquake experts described the San Andreas Fault, that fault line that runs 800 miles through California, as "locked, loaded, and ready to roll." Certainly, those weren't the most encouraging words for California residents. And now new reports are adding to the scare-factor, showing "large-scale motion" around that same seismic hotspot. But don't panic just yet.
Researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, the University of Washington, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography have detected a rising and sinking motion near the San Andreas Fault considered to be "large-scale vertical motion." This is all the result of growing stress that should eventually lead to that big earthquake everyone's been expecting.
Keep in mind that motion around the fault is nothing new and is constantly being monitored. However, this particular group of researchers used a new statistical technique and GPS data to document this kind of vertical movement for the first time.
Speaking of his team's results, the lead author of the study Samuel Howell told University of Hawaii News, “While the San Andreas GPS data has been publicly available for more than a decade, the vertical component of the measurements had largely been ignored in tectonic investigations because of difficulties in interpreting the noisy data. Using this technique, we were able to break down the noisy signals to isolate a simple vertical motion pattern that curiously straddled the San Andreas fault.”
And while any sort of motion near a fault line might sound scary, this is actually good news! All this new research should lead to a better understanding of the San Andreas Fault as a whole, which should help improve preparations for that inevitable "big one." See, good news. And you can read all about this exciting, new research in Nature Geoscience.
Now get back to your earthquake emergency drill.
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