Sorry, but the news on earthquakes really isn't getting any rosier.
Research published last year suggests the long-overdue “big one” will be bigger than we imagined and is more likely to strike within our lifetimes than previously believed.
Now a new paper by USC earth sciences professor James Dolan says that a hefty quake could “cause large earthquakes to cluster in time along a single fault system,” according to a summary.
An abstract of his work says:
There is increasing evidence suggestive of a wide range of coordinated behaviors, including clustering of large earthquakes on single faults and regional fault networks, as well as large temporal variations in slip rate spanning multiple earthquake cycles.
Dolan presented his paper this week at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America (SSA) in Pasadena. A USC representative told us it would be published in an academic journal at a later date.
He studied a fault that came alive with a “cluster” of four quakes after a 4,000-year lull. In Southern California, we've been going through a lull of our own.
Dolan found that “the fault may go through 'super cycles' of strain, where the strength of the fault waxes and wanes over thousands of years,” according to the summary.
“The earthquake cycles in the area may be caused by this type of super cycle influencing the strength of many different faults in the region, including the San Andreas [that's us!], Garlock and the Eastern California Shear Zone faults,” the summary states.
We really hope he's wrong. This super cycle doesn't sound super at all.