California was struck by a total of seven earthquakes today, ranging from magnitude-2.7 to magnitude-3.3. The USGS described each quake as ‘light’, meaning there was no serious damage to buildings or people. But California could one day be hit by an earthquake between magnitude seven and eight and could cause landslides and chemical spills.
When will earthquake strike California?
The San Andreas fault line in California is a hot spot for earthquakes, as the Pacific and North American tectonic plates meet.
The last time it was struck by the Big One was in San Francisco in 1906.
The earthquake killed around 3,000 people after ripping through 296 miles (477 km) of the San Andreas fault line.
But John Vidale, director of the Southern California Earthquake Centre, warned there is no way of predicting when the Big One will hit.
He told Newsweek: “When we look at the history of the fault, we can see these big earthquakes have happened many times over the last few thousand years, so yeah, it’s an inevitability.
“We just don’t know if it’s going to be now or two hundred years from now.
“The impact of the northern Big One would be tremendous – I mean the San Andreas runs right through San Francisco. It’s quite closer to San Francisco than it is to Los Angeles.”
What is the Ring of Fire?
The Ring of Fire is a 25,000 mile-long (40,000 km) horse-shoe shaped arc that stretches from the southern tip of South America to the US west coast, Japan, Southeast Asia and New Zealand.
Up to 90 percent of the World’s earthquakes take place on the Ring of Fire, according to the USGS.
There are so many earthquakes along the ring, as most of the World’s fault lines lie across it.
Fault lines are gaps between different continental tectonic plates and they are constantly moving around.
When plates catch, they act elastically and cause tremors when they are freed.
They travel towards the surface of the Earth in the form of an earthquake.
California, Puerto Rico and Alaska are hit the hardest by this, as they all see hundreds of earthquakes per year.