San Andreas Fault system

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California’s Other Drought: A Major Earthquake Is Overdue

California earthquakes are a geologic inevitability. The state straddles the North American and Pacific tectonic plates and is crisscrossed by the San Andreas and other active fault systems. Tragic quakes that occurred in 2017 near the Iran-Iraq border and in central Mexico, with magnitudes of 7.3 and 7.1, respectively, are well within the range of earthquake sizes that have a high likelihood of occurring in highly populated parts of California during the next few decades. The earthquake situation in California is actually more dire than people who aren't seismologists like myself may realize. Although many Californians can recount experiencing an earthquake, most have never personally experienced a strong one. For major events, with magnitudes of 7 or greater, California is actually in an earthquake drought. Multiple segments of the expansive San Andreas Fault system are now sufficiently stressed to produce large and damaging events.

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