Sunday, March 13, 2011

What If That Earthquake ...

... (which has now been upgraded to a 9.0) had happened in the U.S. instead of Japan?  Say, along the San Andreas Fault - the tectonic boundary between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate?  "... Yuri Fialko (at the University of California) has demonstrated that the San Andreas fault has been stressed to a level sufficient for the next "big one," as it is commonly called; that is, an earthquake of magnitude 7.0 or greater.  The study also concluded that the risk of a large earthquake may be increasing more rapidly than researchers had previously believed.  Fialko also emphasized in his study that, while the San Andreas Fault had experienced massive earthquakes in 1857 at its central section and in 1906 at its northern segment (the 1906 San Francisco earthquake), the southern section of the fault has not seen a similar rupture in at least 300 years.  If such an earthquake were to occur, Fialko's study stated, it would result in substantial damage to Palm Springs and a number of other...densely populated areas...'The information available suggests that the fault is ready for the next big earthquake but exactly when the triggering will happen and when the earthquake will occur we cannot tell,' Fialko said. 'It could be tomorrow or it could be 10 years or more from now,' he concluded in September 2005."  (WP)  Is the U.S. ready for "the big one"?  Are building codes along the SA Fault as robust as those in Japan?  How many nuclear reactors and other critical infrastructure are in the area?  How much of America's military is controlled from west coast installations?  Would China send aid, stand by - or try to take advantage of the situation?