Could it happen? There have been an extraordinary number of earthquakes occurring at the southern California border and across into Mexico at the north end of Baja California and the Gulf of California, an active continental rift region that is transitional between the San Andreas fault system to the north and a spreading ridge of the East Pacific Rise in the Gulf of California to the south.
Since 2010 there have been more than 2,000 earthquakes there, including one powerful magnitude 7.2 during April of 2010, all indicating a very active ‘something’ is going on beneath the surface. In fact, most of what is going on is not that far beneath the surface! Just 6 km (3.7 miles) below the desert is where most of the shaking is happening.
There is a volcano in the region (named ‘Cerro Prieto’), although it is located east of where the earthquake activity has been. The earthquakes do seem to be lined up with the Laguna Salada fault. Laguna Salada is a vast dry lake some 30 feet below sea level in the Sonoran Desert of Baja California. The lake and the Laguna Salada fault is linked to the San Andreas Fault. Uh-oh.
The curious thing is that these quakes, and the fault zone region are at very low altitude, nearly sea level (and below). In fact, it seems as though a significant tear in the earth in this region could conceivably cause sea water from the Gulf of California to rush inland, possibly all the way up into California, the Salton Sea. That would be an extreme event, for sure, but it’s curious to note the possibility.
Another thought is ‘what if’ there is a major earthquake in this region, which also sets off the San Andreas fault, which itself is stretched tight as a drum waiting to rip through the state of California. It could be pretty cataclysmic. Imagine the Baja peninsula beginning in San Francisco instead of in Mexico? A bit of a stretch… pun intended…
The following is a chart of earthquakes there since 2010 which shows how the vast majority of shakers have been in the magnitude 3 – 4 range. Earthquakes of this magnitude do not relieve much pressure. Instead they may be indicating a quivering region of earth which is ready to snap.
The second chart shows the depth (km) at which these earthquakes have been occurring. They have all been very shallow, meaning the ‘crack’ in the earth is near the surface compared with lots other fault zones. What this means is that when ‘it’ happens, the effects will be quite severe on the surface compared with a much deeper quake.
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