The National Geographic, citing researchers from Southern California’s Harvard University who recently made their frightening findings public, first reported on the findings.
“I hope bringing attention to it can potentially increase safety in the region”, study author Franklin Wolfe said, cited by The National Geographic.
According to US-based researchers, the fissure in California is currently slow-moving and likely ruptures only once every 3,200 to 4,700 years. The Wilmington fault underlies two of the busiest US ports and researchers reportedly find it disturbing that it could eventually link with other nearby faults, prompting a magnitude 7.4 calamity.
The new study also reveals how many faults crisscross southern California.
Researchers emphasized that the Wilmington fault is different from other fractures that can be detected on the Earth’s surface. In particular, the Wilmington fault is ‘blind’, which means it is concealed beneath the surface, making it especially difficult to study.
California was struck by dozens of minor earthquakes earlier this summer, with the largest of magnitude 7.1 that luckily hit sparsely-populated areas in the US southern state reportedly causing only outages and minor damage.
In January 1994, the region was struck by what is now known as the 6.7 magnitude blind-thrust Northridge earthquake, which saw 57 killed and an estimated 8700 injured.