Newly Discovered Durmid Ladder Shakes Up Southern California

Katy Shipley |
San Andreas
The San Andreas fault runs up the coast of California and is likely to set off the next catastrophic earthquake. Image:

The Geological Society of America has identified a new ladder-like structure in the San Andrea’s fault zone.  The Durmid ladder structure could cause the next major earthquake, also known as the “Big One“.

The San Andrea’s fault zone is a major cause of concern for those who live in the densely populated areas that the fault runs through.  While it is hard to predict the exact behavior of earthquakes, major cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco are often at the mercy of the fault line.

California news station, KRON, met with U.S. Geological Survey’s Dr. Walter Mooney to get his opinion on this new geological discovery.

“We would be very concerned if we begin to see movement on that ladder structure because it could trigger or influence or encourage other associated faults to move and what we’re really afraid of is a big one, a magnitude 8 in Southern California.”

Durmid Hill, home of the newly discovered ladder structure, lies south of Coachella on the Salton Sea. Image: Fox News

Collapse of the Durmid ladder structure is potentially catastrophic, but how likely is it?

The U.S. Geological Survey has collected enough data to give us some insight on earthquakes, but still say that the data cannot be used to make predictions.  Careful analysis of the timeline of earthquakes shows the average time between each quake.  According to their averages, we may be overdue for the next “big one”, but there’s no way to predict exactly where it will strike.

“We do not understand earthquakes well enough to know exactly where the next earthquake will occur, what the magnitude will be, or exactly when it will happen.”

Data gathered and analyzed by the USGS in Wrightwood, CA have shown that the average time between earthquakes is past due.  The last major earthquake here was in 1857 (M7.9).  With an average of 100 years between major events, it is about 50 years overdue already.  Only four times in the past has the time between two major earthquakes been longer than 150 years.  This has lead experts to notice the likelihood of a large earthquake in Southern California’s future.

“The results of this study indicate that this section of the San Andreas Fault is likely to have a large earthquake in the not-too-distant future.”

The aftermath of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, CA. Image: LA Times

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