New Tsunami Warning Resurrects Old California Fears

Californians have been warned for decades that “the big one” could shove the coveted coastline into the sea in the wake of a massive earthquake like the one featured in Vin Diesel’s new disaster flick San Andreas. Now, a new study is pumping statistics into old fears that the threat could come to life.

Mark Legg led the team that compiled research from undersea surveys analyzing the sea floor in great detail, KQED reported. The study expands on prior knowledge of the California Continental Borderland and a fault aspect known as transgression. Conclusions and years of data documented in the study could lead the regions at risk to make changes in disaster relief plans.

KQED quotes Legg as saying, “I worry that the area between San Clemente, Santa Catalina, and Santa Barbara Islands is a seismic gap.” He continues, “Loaded, locked, and ready for a Big One offshore.”

Two large-scale fault zones running parallel to one another off California’s coast could spawn tsunamis crashing down on cities, including, among others, San Diego, Long Beach, and Santa Barbara, according to the study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

An abstract from the study reads in part:

A logjam model describes the tectonic evolution of crustal blocks bounded by strike-slip and reverse faults which are restrained from northwest displacement by the Transverse Ranges and the southern San Andreas fault big bend. Because of their potential for dip-slip rupture, the faults may also be capable of generating local tsunamis that would impact Southern California coastlines, including populated regions in the Channel Islands.

The report details the two faults as the Santa Cruz-Catalina Ridge Fault that runs 110 miles and the Ferrelo Fault that runs 220 miles from Santa Rosa Island to the Velero Basin off Mexico.

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