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Seismologists To Study Southern Calif. Earthquake Faults

Aired 9/26/11 on KPBS News.

Scientists at the University of California San Diego have received federal funding to study the San Andreas and San Jacinto fault lines.

Scientists at the University of California San Diego have received federal funding to study the San Andreas and San Jacinto fault lines.

Seismologists know the location of the fault lines, and they know the San Andreas and San Jacinto faults can produce major earthquakes. What remains unclear is the behavior and characteristics of the faults.

Frank Vernon, a seismologist at UCDS's Scripps Institution of Oceanography, compares the current understanding of Southern California's fault lines to a blurry one-megapixel photo.

"Now we're going to try go get a 10-megapixel photo. We're going to put sensors in higher density to make better measurements and observations," said Vernon.

He says that's something that's never been done before.

He hopes the five-year study will reveal what specifically is happening underground that causes major earthquakes. He'll be integrating a wide variety of tools, including GPS receivers, to study the San Jacinto fault line.

Similar studies are also being conducted along the San Andreas fault.

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