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9.8 Earthquake In YouTube Video, 'San Andreas' Movie Just Fiction, But Science Says 8.0 Increasingly Likely For California

(CBS SF) -- Separating fact from fiction, yes, a 9+ magnitude quake or two will hit California in the "San Andreas" movie being released May 29th, yes a 8.0 magnitude quake in California is possible, but no, a planetary alignment has less effect on Earth than the Moon's gravity and there is nearly zero chance of a 9.8 quake happening in California on May 28th or May 29th.

Scientists believe an earthquake of that power is nearly impossible in California because the San Andreas fault isn't long enough or of the right type to trigger that sort of movement.

USGS seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones said, "California does not have a fault capable of a [magnitude] 9."

Despite what a man in the Netherlands claims in this virally popular Youtube video, scientists agree a planetary alignment would not impact Earth in any discernible way. The moon's gravity is exponentially more powerful, and there isn't even clear evidence that the moon itself plays any real role in quake activity.

Ditrianum Media published the video on Youtube, suggesting a 9.8 quake would occur in a series of catastrophes, beginning at exactly 5 p.m. Pacific time, midnight UTC (Coordinated Universal Time).

For comparison, the strongest earthquake ever recorded was a 9.5 tremor that hit Chile in 1960, sending tsunami waves around the Pacific, and killing nearly 2,000 and leaving 2 million people homeless.

The fact that an 8.0 quake is possible in California and increasingly likely in the next 30 years is based in science.

The United States Geological Survey reported this in March.

An 8.0 quake is significantly weaker than the 9+ quakes of viral videos and Hollywood fiction.

San Andreas - Official Teaser Trailer [HD] by Warner Bros. Pictures on YouTube

USGS's Jones said, "The San Andreas is capable of an 8. We do have the capacity for a very damaging earthquake that could disrupt our society."

A study by the Third Uniform California Rupture Forecast, or UCERF3, sheds new light on where earthquakes will likely hit in California over the next couple of decades and how big they're expected to be.

"The new likelihoods are due to the inclusion of possible multi-fault ruptures, where earthquakes are no longer confined to separate, individual faults, but can occasionally rupture multiple faults simultaneously," said lead author and USGS scientist Ned Field.

"This is a significant advancement in terms of representing a broader range of earthquakes throughout California's complex fault system."

Compared to the 2008 assessment, earthquakes around magnitude 6.7, the size of the destructive 1994 Northridge quake, has gone down by 30 percent with a frequency from an average of one per 4.8 years to about one per 6.3 years.

The study also says the likelihood that California will experience a magnitude 8 or larger earthquake in the next 30 years has gone up from about 4.7 percent to about 7 percent.

One particularly ready fault is the Southern San Andreas, which geologists have long believed will be most likely to host a large earthquake.

There's a lower chance for for the Northern San Andreas near San Francisco partly because of the relatively recent 1906 earthquake on that fault. Probabilities on two other Bay Area faults, the Hayward–Rodgers Creek and the Calaveras, actually rival or exceed those on the Northern San Andreas, mostly because they are both relatively ready.

The UCERF3 model is the first of its kind to indicate where and when the Earth might slip along the state's many faults.

"The UCERF3 model provides our leaders and the public with improved information about what to expect, so that we can better," said Tom Jordan, Director of the Southern California Earthquake Center and a co-author of the study.

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