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The next big Earthquake? Yeah it may be partially our fault if it happens. Studies are showing that the San Andreas fault is growing closer to earthquake status due to groundwater depletion caused by humans.
San Francisco Public Press reports experts have known for a while injecting water in the ground can lubricate the seismic faults and cause disturbance on a local level, but now it seems the problem can be more far reaching than previously thought. The findings were first investigated when nearby mountain ranges, namely the Sierra Nevadas and the Coastal Ranges were rising at a rate of 1-3 millimeters yearly. Sure it’s not a large amount, but moving mountains is no easy feat, even with such a small shift. So, scientists began to wonder if there was a link between the mountain ranges and groundwater depletion in the area. After a bit of searching and research, they managed to find a ten year link of water use directly linking to the rise of the mountain ranges.
Two trends were discovered in fact, one short term and one long term. Short term during the seasons where people consume more water due to drought, the mountain ranges grew in size, and long term as the ground water depleted, the mountains continued to grow. The easiest way to explain this is the Earth is a trampoline and the water is a very obese child. We are slowly removing the obese child with slightly smaller children which is causing the trampoline to retain its shape, which is not necessarily a good thing for the rate at which kids are being switched.
The same trampoline can relate to the very volatile San Andreas fault. The lack of water in the area is putting stress on the fault, and while it was initially believed human activity plays no role in the process, researchers are saying they could be wrong on that. If anything, there’s more evidence now that human interference is increasing the probability that a big earthquake could be hitting San Francisco within the next ten years. The answer to the problem? Use less water, or contact your representative!