Scientists are warning of a new earthquake danger in Northern California. They’ve discovered that two fault lines link together north of San Francisco, creating a new risk for the nearly seven million people living in the Bay Area.
Some 1,200 emergency responders took part in an earthquake drill Thursday, and hundreds of scientists, engineers and politicians gather Friday in Los Angeles to discuss the next big quake, reports CBS News correspondent Mireya Villarreal.
Here’s what happens in the drill: A magnitude 7.8 earthquake hits California and the clock is ticking. National guardsman are working to pull a trapped man from an elevator shaft, while a specially trained dog searches for stranded survivors.
This is meant to help emergency responders prepare for the real thing.
“We want to be the best prepared, the best trained and the most efficient as possible,” said Major Richard Chappell.
But these extreme scenarios could easily become reality. USGS scientists recently discovered that two of the country’s most dangerous faults — once thought to be at least two miles apart — are actually connected, creating one massive 118-mile long fault. Using an acoustic device, they confirmed that the Hayward fault meets the Rogers Creek fault in the shallow waters of the San Pablo Bay near San Francisco.
“The longer a fault, the larger an earthquake it can produce, and if the Hayward and Rogers Creek faults went together along their entire length, it would up to a magnitude 7.4,” said USGS geophysicist Janet Watt.
“What kind of damage are we talking about here?” Villarreal asked.