San Andreas Fault: Where Two Plates Meet
Monday's quakes are a reminder that we live in an area prone to seismic activity. Scientists and students from UT Austin are in the valley to study the San Andreas Fault. Video by kmir6.comvideo
Monday's quakes are a reminder that we live in an area prone to seismic activity.
Scientists and students from UT Austin are in the valley to study the San Andreas Fault.
We met them in the Whitewater Canyon, where two tectonic plates meet right in our backyard.
The sudden rumbling and shaking is a reminder the San Andreas Fault is our neighbor.
"That was great for us, because we're visiting from Texas, and it's actually a really fun thing to have an earthquake when we're geologists visiting from elsewhere," said Dr. Whitney Behr, who teaches structural geology at UT Austin.
They met at Marcus Hughes log cabin, which sits just 100 feet on the Pacific Plate.
"The Pacific Plate attached to Hawaii and Japan and the North American Plate attached to New York and Iceland,
these two tectonic plates, continental plates have come together," said Hughes, the executive director of Whitewater Canyon Earth & Biological Sciences.
More than two decades ago, a quake took down several structures in the Whitewater Canyon.
Hughes engineered his home for a major earthquake.
"This section of the San Andreas in Whitewater Canyon is very very active."
Dr. Behr told us what makes this area unique.
"The rate of motion, this is a huge plate boundary, fault zone, definitely one of the largest in the world and its definitely very fast-moving, it's a large system that no only includes the San Andreas but includes several other faults that go eastward all the way to the Mojave Desert, the Sierra Nevada area, and also westward into the Pacific underwater."
Hughes says the mission of the Whitewater Canyon Earth and Biological Sciences is to bring scientists here to study the San Andreas.
"To really get into predicting, and really get into the science of when the big one is supposed to happen, because it is imminent, we just don't know when," said Hughes.
"We still don't know a lot about when the next earthquake may occur on this strand of the southern San Andreas which hasn't had a large earthquake here in several hundred years, so it's definitely worthwhile to try to figure out how fast its moving," said Dr. Behr.
Hughes say another university will be out later this month to install GPS recording stations, and seismographs to study the San Andreas Fault.