An earthquake in the area could cause land to drop up to 3 feet
According to the report, the Orange County coast is prone to a dramatic and sudden “sinking” after discovering evidence of ancient tsunami activity that dropped land in the region.
Robert Leeper, carried out the study with the help of the US Geological Survey, he said: “It is not just a gradual sinking. This is boom — it would drop. It’s very rapid sinking.”
Earthquakes can happen at any time. We can’t predict them
Robert Leeper, author of new study
The study revealed land within major Californian seismic faults could sink by 1.5 and three feet in a matter of seconds, causing catastrophic devastation.
Leeper said: “Earthquakes can happen at any time. We can’t predict them.
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“All we can do is try to understand how often they occur in the past, and be prepared for when the next one does occur.”
The shape of the depression studied by the team is duplicated in other faults in the state, meaning a serious earthquake at any of them could cause the same sinking effect.
Lucy Jones, a seismologist, said: “If a magnitude 7.5 earthquake did rupture on the Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon fault system, such a temblor would bring massive damage throughout Southern California.”
Leeper added: “We identified three of these buried layers composed of vegetation or sediment that used to be at the surface.
The study has revealed an ancient earthquake caused land to drop
“These buried, organic-rich layers are evidence of three earthquakes on the Newport-Inglewood in the past 2,000 years.”
Kate Scharer, a co-author on the study, said: “Sudden dropping of land could cause damage to infrastructure, such as roads or pipes not designed to handle such a rapid fall.
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The team have now published their report
“Earthquakes elsewhere have caused sudden drops. Pine trees that once grew above the beach suddenly dropped below sea level, killing the trees as salt water washed over their roots.”
The scientists used a vibrating machine to push down a 20-foot-long, sharp-tipped pipe into the sediment and extract sediment samples that gave them a look at what has happened geologically underneath the site.