At greater risk

Published: Monday 30 September 1996

Geologists at Stanford University in the US have predicted that the next earthquake that hits the San Francisco bay area could be more devastating than the one that occurred in 1868. Working on the rupture patterns of the Hayward fault -- the main seismic risk in the area which runs down the east side of the bay and which was responsible for an earthquake of magnitude seven in 1868 -- Ellen Yu and Paul Segall have put forth a new theory. Until now, scientists looked at the Hayward fault as two separate segments that were unlikely to rupture at the same time. Yu and Segall now propose that the whole of Hayward fault could rupture at once, causing destruction to an urban corridor stretching more than 75 km. This study, say the researchers, should serve as a reminder that large quakes do not always stop at the supposed boundries between fault segments ( New Scientist ,Vol 151, No 2041).

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