California overdue for major earthquake that could cripple water supply system, new study says

Three fault segments running beneath Northern California and its roughly 15 million people are overdue for a major earthquake, including one that lies northeast of San Francisco and near the dams and canals that supply much of the state’s water, according to a geological study published Monday.

The three segments and one other in Northern California are loaded with enough tension to produce quakes of magnitude 6.8 or greater, according to a geological study published Monday, according to a geological study published Monday.

They include the little-known Green Valley fault, which lies northeast of San Francisco and near the dams and canals that supply much of California’s water. Underestimated by geologists until now, the fault running between the cities of Napa and Fairfield is primed for a magnitude-7.1 quake, according to researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and San Francisco State University.

The water supplies of the San Francisco Bay area, southern California and the farm-rich Central Valley depend on the man-made water system ferrying supplies from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, noted James Lienkaemper, the U.S. Geological Survey geologist who was lead author of the study. The Green Valley fault is last believed to have ruptured sometime in the 1600s.The study shows the state “needs to consider more seriously” the earthquake risk in that area, Lienkaemper said by phone.

All of the four vulnerable fault segments belong to the San Andreas fault system, the geological dividing line that marks where the western half of California shifts northwest and away from the rest of North America at about 2 inches a year.

Full article: California overdue for major earthquake that could cripple water supply system, new study says (National Post)

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