MENLO PARK (KPIX) — A new seismological study from the U.S. Geological Survey that could be described as the opposite of earthshaking indicates that there are millions of minuscule quakes happening in the Bay Area that were undetectable until now.
Scientist at Caltech in Southern California have reexamined historic seismic data using a new algorithm running on a super computer. They have identified nearly two million tiny temblors that previously could not be accurately measured that they called “micro quakes.”
Geophysics Dr. Andrew Michael of the USGS says this new tool will help the Bay Area.
“Well, we have the same problems of faults that connect to each other, like the Hayward and the Rodgers Creek faults,” said Michael. “And we’d be getting better images of how they connect over the years. The same for the Hayward and the Calaveras Fault.”
The Bay Area has certainly seen major quakes and will again in the future. By studying these micro quakes that happen deep underground almost around the clock, scientist believe they will gain a better understanding of when a fault may snap.
It’s also useful for studying quake swarms.
“In the San Ramon area, we regularly have earthquake swarms,” said Michael. “And with 10 times the data, we would be able to track them that much more accurately and better forecast how they behave in the future.”
But when asked if the millions of small earthquakes help relieve stress on major faults, Michael said no.
“If they were going to be really important to releasing energy on the faults, we would need 30 times as many,” said Michael.
You don’t see them. You don’t feel them but, they may be the first clue to better understanding the how and why of earthquakes in California.