Everyone that lives along the San Andreas Fault has “the big one” in the back of their mind always, whether they care to admit it or not. For Californians, the question is not if but when another devastating earthquake will occur on the famously shaky ground where they make their homes. Earthquake drills are a regular event at schools, and all businesses have a plan for such an emergency. As a matter of fact, the community as a whole just recently took part in a huge initiative to boost awareness and make sure everyone knows what to do when the time comes. This event was called the Great California ShakeOut. However, even as Californians live in fear and prepare for when that day arrives, scientists continue to try to gain a better understanding of just what happens to make that shaky ground so shaky to begin with.
For years, the San Andreas fault was looked at like most other faults. It is the edge where two huge tectonic plates meet, leaving it fated to always be susceptible to major earthquakes. But new findings have caused seismologists to start to change their visualization of one of the world’s most troublesome fault lines. Now, they believe that the fault is actually vertical. The fault actually continues down into the Earth’s mantle in a shape that resembles a huge propeller. This helps them explain some of the disparities of who feels what when a major earthquake happens. The vertical nature of the fault can cause some areas very close in proximity to one another to suffer completely different experiences. Depending on where a city falls on the propeller determines how severe the shaking will be at that point. This effect has long been documented, although an explanation for the behavior was never arrived at. In 1989, this was observed when the city of Watsonville, south of the fault, experienced almost twice as bad shaking as the city of San Jose. San Jose is located north of the fault line, but both cities are almost exactly the same distance from epicenter of the earthquake. On a normal fault line, both cities would have experienced similar shaking because the seismic waves move outward in a circle from the center. The propeller shape of the San Andreas fault makes it unique and causes this strange phenomenon where the epicenter no longer determines where the damage will be most catastrophic.
The good news about the discovery is it helps scientists understand what is going on beneath the Earth’s surface better, and these findings will no doubt cause them to take a closer look at other fault lines all over the world. Hopefully, this better understanding will lead to better chances of predicting earthquakes and knowing what areas are in the most danger when they do happen.
For the record, the propeller shape is only for helping people visualize what the San Andreas fault line looks like. Some of the more outlandish conspiracy sites (we’re not naming any names, but PakAlert Press), are probably feverishly working on their article exposing that a giant alien spacecraft with huge propellers is lurking beneath the Earth’s surface, leftover from some previous civilization. The earthquakes are them cranking up the machine of course.
It sounds crazy, but just watch. Someone will go there. Better stick with Common Sense Conspiracy to get all of your information.