Massive undersea earthquakes off the coast of California could send a tsunami crashing into Los Angeles or San Diego, new research suggests.
As the North American and Pacific tectonic plates grind past each other, large chunks of Earth’s crust wedged between them get squeezed and twisted off Southern California and Baja California in Mexico. This logjam of crust could cause catastrophic ruptures at two faults along this boundary, setting off undersea temblors of magnitude 7.9 or 8.0, according to new research published April 25 in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface.
“We’re dealing with continental collision,” Mark Legg, a geologist at Legg Geophysical, a geoexploration and hazard assessment company in Huntington Beach, California, said in a statement. “That’s fundamental. That’s why we have this mess of a complicated logjam.”
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