GPS mapping of San Andreas Fault may give researchers tip as to when it is ready to rupture

The San Andreas Fault line is among the most infamous and hazardous earthquake risk areas in America. There have been movies about the fault line and the area has been studied extensively. Researchers from the University of Hawaii said that the GPS mapping of the fault line could provide researchers with a clue regarding when the fault will be all set to rupture.

On Monday, the findings were published in the Nature Geoscience journal. The fault spans along the Pacific coast in Northern California, via the Bay Area, and into Southern California. The fault is the site of numerous most destructive earthquakes in America.

Some of the most famous quakes that have taken place near the fault include the devastating 1906 Great San Francisco earthquake and the 1989 Loma Prieta quake that left the Bay Area in ruins.

When the vertical motion of the fault was observed, scientists managed to key in on the earth’s movement while obstructing out other environmental factors.

Lead researcher Samuel Howell, said, “While the San Andreas GPS data has been publicly available for more than a decade, the vertical component of the measurements had largely been ignored in tectonic investigations because of difficulties in interpreting the noisy data”.

Howell added that with the help of this technique, they were able to break down the noisy signals, isolating a simple vertical motion pattern that intriguingly straddled the San Andreas fault.

The researchers mentioned that they found 125 mile-wide ‘lobes’ of uplift and subsidence, with some millimeters of motion per year, straddling the fault. They said that their earlier prediction has got confirmation through the GPS evidence.

“Researchers at the University of Hawai?i were part of a team that has identified large-scale motion around the San Andreas Fault in Southern California. Although the motion was previously predicted in models, it wasn’t until now that actual documentation was made,” according to a news report published by Maui Now.

Using an array of GPS instruments, researchers have detected “constant motion of the Earth’s crust–sometimes large, sudden motion during an earthquake and often subtle, creeping motion,” according to information released by the University of Hawai?i.

The new findings were also published on June 20 in Nature Geoscience.

“Horizontal interseismic motions of the fault system are largely predictable, but vertical motions arising from tectonic sources remain enigmatic,” the publication notes. In the study, researchers say GPS data exposes a “coherent pattern of uplift and subsidence straddling the fault system.”

According to a report in WCPO by Justin Boggs, “The San Andreas Fault line is one of America’s most infamous and dangerous earthquake risk areas as movies have been made about the fault line and researchers have studied it extensively. According to researchers from the University of Hawaii, GPS mapping of the fault line may give researchers a tip as to when the fault is ready to rupture.”

The fault, which runs along the Pacific coast in Northern California, through the Bay Area and into Southern California, has been the spot for many of America’s most devastating earthquakes. Infamous quakes that took place near the fault include the devastating 1906 Great San Francisco earthquake and the 1989 Loma Prieta quake that also devastated the Bay Area.

“While the San Andreas GPS data has been publicly available for more than a decade, the vertical component of the measurements had largely been ignored in tectonic investigations because of difficulties in interpreting the noisy data,” said lead researcher Samuel Howell. “Using this technique, we were able to break down the noisy signals to isolate a simple vertical motion pattern that curiously straddled the San Andreas fault.”

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