A shocking new study has revealed a massive fault line in the Pacific Ocean that could potentially lead to a devastating tsunami along the California coast. According to a CBS News report, the study was published this Friday in the Journal of Geophysical Research and outlines the risks posed by the underwater tectonic activity.
The study found that there are currently several major faults that could produce earthquakes up to magnitude 8.0 off the coast of Southern California and northern Baja. According to lead author Mark Legg, a geologist in California, there is currently no sign that the faults will trigger a massive earthquake, but he stresses the importance of being prepared.
Legg stated that there have been several magnitude 7-plus earthquakes within the past few hundred years, and that another one is not unlikely. The last offshore earthquake to generate a tsunami was in 1927, which sent six feet of ocean crashing into the shore.
Underwater earthquakes are common along fault lines, but it takes a really big one to cause a tsunami. It usually happens when a tectonic plate is moving towards another, more stable plate. When the building pressure between the two plates becomes too intense, the slabs of earth give way and release all of the pent-up energy.
This can cause the seafloor to rise dramatically and suddenly, which shoves an ocean’s worth of water towards the shore. In California, the Pacific plate is crushing up against the North American plate, resulting in unfathomable amounts of stored energy.
Currently, there is little data about the plate tectonics off the coast of California, and funding for such studies is extremely difficult to come by. Legg has been studying the seismic landscape off the shores of California for years, and warns that there should be more preparation for a large seismic event.
While there’s no sign of a massive tsunami coming to California’s beaches any time in the immediate future, it is essential that we learn to understand the mysterious oceanic plates before a disaster happens.