Science/Tech

Earthquakes Today: Shocking Southern California Discovery Could Help Predict Dangerous Tremors

A new study shows California has been experiencing silent earthquakes that occurred 1.8 million times between 2008 to 2017. Experts said the figure continues to grow which may help indicate dangerous tremors in the future. 

Zachary Ross, one of the researchers and a seismologist at the California Institute of Technology, said they were already aware that a number of mini earthquakes have been happening in the state. However, their study shows the tremors were 10 times more often than seismologists had thought, NBC 7 San Diego reported.

Ross and his team estimated that at least one earthquake happens every three minutes across Southern California, with a total of 495 temblors per day. But the researchers noted most of the quakes were only tiny rumbles on the seismic scale.

"It's not that we didn't know these small earthquakes were occurring,” Ross said in a statement. “The problem is that they can be very difficult to spot amid all of the noise.”

The noise were other factors causing vibrations across the state, such as traveling vehicles, building construction or large gatherings of people.

The findings, published in the journal Science, come from the analysis of 10 years worth of earthquake data recorded between 2008 and 2017 across California. Using high-power computers, the researchers found nearly two million small earthquakes hit Southern California alone with magnitude from negative 1.7 to 2.0.

The team hopes that their study would help other researchers studying earthquakes around the world.

"Seismicity along one fault affects faults and quakes around it, and this newly fleshed-out picture of seismicity in Southern California will give us new insights into how that works," Egill Hauksson, a member of the research team and a CalTech geophysicist, said.

The study also unveiled previously undetected foreshocks that occurred after major earthquakes. The researchers said it may help in the development of new methods for forecasting earthquakes.

“The holy grail of earthquake seismology has always been prediction," Daniel Trugman, a seismologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, said. "I'm cautiously optimistic that we'll make progress on earthquake prediction.”

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