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Scientists Fly Over Southern Calif. To Assess Faults, Earthquake Risk

Audio

Aired 7/2/10

Scientists are concerned the Easter Day magnitude 7.2 earthquake has put more pressure on two Southern California faults.

Scientists are concerned the Easter Day magnitude 7.2 earthquake has put more pressure on two Southern California faults.

Andrea Donnelan, a geophysicist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, says scientists began flying a jet equipped with a radar from the Mexican border north to Temecula last year because they were concerned about the Elsinore and San Jacinto faults.

Donnelan says both faults have been dormant for about a century and are capable of generating magnitude seven quakes or higher.

"So what we did was we had a flight to see if the ground has changed since the earthquake occurred, because strain changes over time," said Donnelan. "And we want to understand if there's some motion indicative of causing higher stress on faults to the north."

The Elsinore Fault runs from Ocotillo north through Julian and Temecula.

The San Jacinto Fault begins east of Borrego Springs and goes north through Hemet.

Donnelan hopes her research will help scientists better predict earthquakes, to narrow down the forecast from 30 years to five or 10.

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