Southern California has been rocked by two large earthquakes recently, including a magnitude 7.1 which shook on Friday. This quake was so large it created a crack in the earth which can be seen from space near the epicentre in Trona, California and sent residents ducking for cover. Roads also suffered damage, and images on social media showed groceries spilt across the aisles in supermarkets.
Now in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, seismologist Dr Lucy Jones has said that we need more earthquakes.
When asked whether she likes that people are scared of earthquakes, Dr Jones said: “It doesn’t hurt, because in the long run, we need more earthquakes.
“Need meaning the geology shows us that our long-term average of earthquakes is quite a bit higher than we’ve had for the last 20 years.
“This is the quietest 20 years in southern California history, we’ve never gone 20 years without a six before.
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“And it can lead to some complacency or at least some individuals not knowing what they should be doing.”
The full interview with Dr Jones will air at NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt at 6:30pm ET/5:30pm CT (11.30pm BST).
This comes as according to geologists, the Big One – a massive quake to strike the San Andreas Fault – is likely overdue.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the southern San Andreas Fault has typically seen large earthquakes every 150 years.
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Since the last large earthquake occurred there in 1857, the southern segment of the fault “is considered a likely location for an earthquake” in the coming years.
The USGS website said that given a major 7.9-magnitude quake in San Francisco in 1906, there is a slightly lower chance of a major earthquake happening in the northern part of the state.
In 1857, the Fort Tejon earthquake struck at 8:20 am local time, with an estimated moment magnitude of 7.9.
It ruptured the southern part of the San Andreas Fault for a length of about 225 miles (350 kilometres), between Parkfield and Wrightwood.
Dr Lucy Jones said on Twitter that there is about a two percent chance of the Big One occurring each year – or about one in 20,000 every day.
She said: “One should always be preparing for a Big One.”
According to the USGS, such an event would likely be preceded by increased seismic activity over several years.
Over the last two decades, Dr Jones said Thursday that Southern California has experienced “an extremely quiet time” when it comes to seismic activity.
However going forward, she told reporters: “this is more what we should be thinking about.”