Earlier this year, the US Geological Survey predicted that there is a 7% chance that a major 8.0 earthquake will rock Southern California within the next 30 years. However, a new study conducted by NASA says that there is a 99.9% likelihood of a large 5.0+ quake occurring, such as last year’s La Habra quake, within two-and-a-half years.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory team, utilizing GPS and radar systems, were studying the potential for further earthquakes to be generated by the La Habra fault, and found that there was sufficient stored energy there to produce another 6.1 to 6.3 quake. When they expanded their study to include the 60-mile radius Los Angeles area, they found that the probability of a 5.0 quake happening there within the next three years was a whopping 99.9%.
The USGS, however, differs in their probability estimates, saying that the probability of a 5.0 quake in that time frame is only 85%. While that figure presents a more optimistic outlook, it is still uncomfortably high, especially in a region where anticipating the occurrence of earthquakes is a part of everyday life.