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Published September 17, 1982 | public
Journal Article

Forecasting Southern California Earthquakes


Since 1978 and 1979, California has had a significantly higher frequency of moderate to large earthquakes than in the preceding 25 years. In the past such periods have also been associated with major destructive earthquakes, of magnitude 7 or greater, and the annual probability of occurrence of such an event is now 13 percent in California. The increase in seismicity is associated with a marked deviation in the pattern of strain accumulation, a correlation that is physically plausible. Although great earthquakes (magnitude greater than 7.5) are too infrequent to have clear associations with any pattern of seismicity that is now observed, the San Andreas fault in southern California has accumulated sufficient potential displacement since the last rupture in 1857 to generate a great earthquake along part or all of its length.

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© 1982 American Association for the Advancement of Science. This is Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory contribution 3368 and Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, contribution 3744.

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October 26, 2023