A powerful earthquake registering at 6.4 on the Richter scale rocked Southern California on July 5. Since then, there have been a series of aftershocks, including a powerful 7.1 magnitude quake on July 7. While the tremors seem to have quietened down, experts believe the aftermath of the seismic activity could play a part in volcanic eruptions. Researchers have noted that three fault lines beneath the surface of California – the San Andreas Fault, the Hayward Fault and the San Jacinto Fault – have all suddenly sprung into action in the past week, leaving scientists concerned.
This has led to theories that something even deeper may be occurring – and it may be magma activity.
As a result, scientists are monitoring eight volcanoes in California which could become active due to the recent quakes if the theory proves to be true.
Of the volcanoes, five of them – Mount Shasta, Medicine Lake, Lassen, Long Valley and Salton Buttes – have not erupted in the last 3,000 years.
Another of them – the Clear Lake Volcanic Field near San Francisco – has not erupted in an even longer timeframe.
This would mean that tension has been building beneath the surface for thousands of years.
A recent US Geological Survey study read: “The potential for damaging earthquakes, landslides, floods, tsunamis and wildfires is widely recognised in California.
“The same cannot be said for volcanic eruptions, even though they occur in the state about as frequently as the largest earthquakes on the San Andreas Fault.”
With the San Andreas fault being active recently, scientists are worried the volcanoes could also kick back into life.
Scientists also state the latest earthquake will not lessen the chances of ‘the Big One’ – a proposed major earthquake which will one day rock the west coast of the USA.
Seismologist Lucy Jones told the LA Times: “This does not make [the Big One] less likely. There is about a 1 in 20 chance that this location will be having an even bigger earthquake in the next few days, that we have not yet seen the biggest earthquake of the sequence.
“Some aftershocks will probably exceed magnitude 5, which means they’ll probably be damaging.”