However, the researchers found that the stepover Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon (NIRC) fault are just about two kilometers wide or less. Additionally, the yellow boxes highlight the three stepovers within the fault zone.
A report published Tuesday in the Journal of Geophysical Research by scientists from UC San Diego and Scripps Institution of Oceanography stated: "the fault poses a significant hazard to coastal Southern California".
Scientists use sonar imaging to map the system's fault lines and to analyze the system's "stopovers", gaps where the faults are horizontally offset. A high 5- or low 6-magnitude quake is already considered a threat.
There's also concern about the on-shore section of the Rose Canyon fault.
Julian Lozos, an assistant geophysics professor at California State University, claimed there is a strong chance this quake will coincide with one along the adjacent San Jacinto fault line, which runs through more heavily-populated cities. Generally, stepovers wider than three kilometers are capable of inhibiting rupture along the entire fault by containing them into the segments and creating smaller earthquakes in the process.
This Temblor figure shows the Southern California coastline both with and without faults.
According to the researchers, the system runs offshore from San Diego Bay to Seal Beach in Orange County, and then on land through the Los Angeles basin.
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Two quake faults known for decades as potential threats to Southern California have been re-evaluated by scientists, who on Tuesday said the pair actually are a single fault that is capable of more damage than previously believed.
The fault's most recent major rupture occurred in 1933 in Long Beach and produced a magnitude-6.4 natural disaster that killed 115 people.
"Longer gaps have happened in the past, but we know they always do culminate in a large quake".
Overall, this new study provides additional evidence showing the risk offshore faults pose to Southern California. Southern California Edison funded the research at the direction of the California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission.
Analysis of the fault system suggests a rupture on land could produce magnitude 7.3 earthquakes, while an combination offshore-onshore fault slip could yield magnitude 7.4 earthquakes.