PASADENA (CBSLA.com) — If scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena are correct, a moderately-sized earthquake is expected within the next two-and-a-half years.
JPL experts predict a possible 5.0 magnitude quake in Los Angeles, but say it very well could be stronger. JPL geophysicist Dr. Andrea Donnellan, along with seven other scientists, has been using radar and GPS to measure Southern California's chances for a sizable earthquake, and has made a sobering hypothesis about another big one.
"When the La Habra earthquake happened, it was relieving some of that stress, and it actually shook some of the upper sediments in the LA basin and moved those a little bit more," Dr. Donellan said.
However, according to Dr. Donnellan, those strains remain, with enough power to produce an even larger quake in the same epicenter in La Habra.
"There's enough energy stored to produce about a magnitude 6.1 to 6.3 earthquake," Dr. Donnellan described.
Dr. Donnellan and her team then proceeded to measure the probability of a similar quake for the entire 60-mile radius of the Los Angeles area. The results produced a shocking 99-percent chance of a magnitude 5.0 or greater in Los Angeles within three years.
Seismologists at the US Geological Survey have questioned that probability, suggesting it may in fact be slightly lower, stating: "...the accepted random chance of a (magnitude five) or greater in this area in three years is 85 percent, independent of the analysis in this paper."
USGS uses different methods from radar and GPS, such as fault maps and models, to develop their results.
Regardless of the discrepancy in percentage, scientists agree that the probability of at least a moderate-sized earthquake in Los Angeles over the next three years is high.
"We all need to be prepared. That's not new for LA."
for more features.