Could California’s Recent Heavy Rainfall Trigger A Big Earthquake?

“20 inches of rain, 12 feet of snow finally end 5-year drought in N. California”

USA TODAY website, January 12, 2017

“Drenched: How L.A. went from bone-dry to 216% of normal rainfall in four months”

Los Angeles Times website, January 23, 2017

“Parts Of California See 300 Percent Of Normal January Rainfall”

-CBS Los Angeles website, January 24, 2017

“Flooding rain, mountain snow to pound western US into the weekend”

-AccuWeather.com, February 2, 2017

It’s been some time since I last blogged about California and its earthquake threat. And just recently, I learned there could be a connection between heavy rainfall and big earthquakes (hat-tip Armstrong Economics Blog).

Considering the deluge California received last month (with more coming, by the sounds of it), I wonder if the odds of a major tremblor happening soon have increased in “The Golden State”?

Richard A Lovett reported on the National Geographic website back on December 15, 2011:

Heavy rainfall can trigger earthquakes in what one scientist calls “disaster triggering disaster.”

Shimon Wdowinski, of the University of Miami in Florida, first noticed a connection between storms and earthquakes last year.

The devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti in early 2010 came only 18 months after Haiti had been deluged by several hurricanes and tropical storms.

And another large earthquake, a magnitude 6.4 temblor that rocked Taiwan in 2009, occurred only seven months after the area had been hit by Typhoon Morakot, which dropped 9.5 feet (2.9 meters) of rain in five days. Hurricanes are called typhoons in parts of Asia.

To test the rainfall-earthquake link, Wdowinski dug through the past 50 years of earthquake and weather records for Taiwan, an island that experiences a lot of severe rainstorms and earthquakes.

He found that a magnitude 7.6 earthquake had struck in 1999, only three years after Typhoon Herb soaked Taiwan with 6.6 feet (2 meters) of rain.

Overall, his analysis revealed that Taiwan’s large earthquakes- deemed as magnitude 6 and higher- were five times more likely to occur within four years after such storms than if the storms had had no effect

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

According to Dr. Wdowinski, erosion from landslides is the main culprit, which lessens stress on underlying rocks, therefore making it easier for a fault to move.

Back on January 23, Matt Hamilton and Hailey Branson-Potts reported on the Los Angeles Times website:

After another round of heavy rains soaked parts of California, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency late Monday for several counties dealing with an estimated tens of million dollars in damage from flooding, erosion, and mud flows…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I wonder what Professor Wdowinski’s take on California’s situation would be?

Hopefully, nothing to worry about.

You can read that National Geographic article here on the magazine’s website. Very interesting stuff.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Branson-Potts, Hailey and Hamilton, Matt Hamilton. “Gov. Brown declares state of emergency after storms cause flooding, erosion, highway damage.” Los Angeles Times. 23 Jan. 2017. (http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-la-rain-monday-20170123-story.html). 2 Feb. 2017.

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Thursday, February 2nd, 2017 Asia, Emergencies, Natural Disasters, Science, Weather
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