As a 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck southern Mexico Sunday leaving no casualties or damages so far, according to preliminary reports, a few thousand miles up north in California, United States, people are being told to brace for the Big One.
The U.S. Geological Survey said Mexico’s quake epicenter, which was recorded at 7:34 GMT, was located about 18 miles northeast from Pinotepa municipality in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.
In the meantime, Californians have been told that a massive earthquake typically occurs every 400 to 600 years in the western U.S. state and that when it does happen it could leave thousands of people dead and thousands more homeless.
“San Andreas fault is locked, loaded and ready to roll.” Thomas Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center, told news outlets. He added the fault, which is the longest and most dangerous in California has been “too quiet” since 1857.
Jordan recently addressed the National Earthquake Conference in Long Beach, California.
“The springs on the San Andreas system have been wound very, very tight and the southern San Andreas fault, in particular, looks like it’s locked, loaded and ready to go,” said Jordan, adding that other sections of the 810 mile-long (1,304km) fault are overdue for a quake too, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The scientist explained that in San Bernardino County, the fault hasn’t very much since an earthquake in 1812, while a southeast section near Salton Sea has been quiet since around 1690.
Other scientists agree saying that the Pacific plate moving northwest of the North American plate should move 16ft (4.8 metres) every 100 years to relieve stress, but that this hasn’t happened at San Andreas so stress has been building at points along the fault for more than a century.
The Big One is a hypothetical earthquake of magnitude 8 or greater that is expected to happen along the San Andreas fault that is expected to produce massive destruction to human civilization within about 50 to 100 miles of the quake zone, especially in urban areas like Palm Springs, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
A 2008 report by the USGS warned a magnitude 7.8 earthquake could result in 1,800 deaths, 50,000 injuries and US$200 billion in damages.
Japan is pretty much in the same situation, as scientist there are predicting a devastating earthquake by 2017.