Aerial view of the San Andreas Fault on the in the Carrizo Plain north of Los Angeles. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Aerial view of the San Andreas Fault on the in the Carrizo Plain north of Los Angeles. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A new report on California’s seismic vulnerabilities says that up to 3.5 million homes could be damaged in an 8.0 earthquake along the San Andreas fault.

The new estimate, from the data firm CoreLogic, is based on a theoretical rupture of the entire San Andreas fault, which passes through Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay Area and spans more than 800 miles, from the Pacific Ocean south of Eureka to Imperial County near the Mexican border, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

Scientists now say it is possible — although not likely — that the northern and southern sections of the San Andreas fault can rupture simultaneously, according to the newspaper. The ensuing cost of reconstruction could be greater than $289 billion.

Despite the massive destruction expected, the report apparently did not address how many people would be killed or injured in such a giant temblor.

The CoreLogic report was calculated based upon a new government forecast on earthquake risks released about a year and a half ago, which accepted the possibility — however remote — of a San Andreas fault earthquake simultaneously striking Northern and Southern California.

Scientists had long thought that no large earthquakes could occur on a so-called “creeping” section of the San Andreas fault in San Benito and Monterey counties. Creeping sections of the faults generally produce small earthquakes, like those magnitude 5 or less, but were not thought to produce large ones.

But recent computer simulations show that large earthquakes can sometimes punch through parts of a fault that are creeping, The Times reported, although such a development is not very probable.

—City News Service

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