Caltech debunks 5 most popular earthquake myths

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Dr. Jennifer Andrews of the California Institute of Technology helped to debunk five of the most popular earthquake myths.

Scientists at Pasadena's California Institute of Technology debunked five of the most popular myths about earthquakes.

Caltech Seismologist Dr. Jennifer Andrews helped clarify many of the biggest myths surrounding earthquakes when she visited ABC7.

Myth No. 1: During a big earthquake, California will fall into the ocean.
"Firstly, the ocean isn't just some big hole and we're just going to fall off and disappear beneath the waves. And actually the truth is that the San Andreas is a lateral fault, so actually southwestern California is moving up toward Alaska and Los Angeles is moving up toward San Francisco very slowly," Andrews said.

Myth No. 2: Small earthquakes prevent larger quakes.
"Because the earthquake magnitude is algorithmic, for every one change in magnitude we have 30 times change in energy release. It's just not possible for us to have enough magnitude 3s to make up for that magnitude 7. You just can't fit them all in," Andrews stated.

Myth No. 3: A doorway is the safest place to be during an earthquake.
"I find this myth fascinating because of where it came from. It comes from when buildings had a very different manufacturing style and the last thing standing was the doorway. Nowadays, I'm afraid the door is more dangerous to you, so drop, cover and hold on. Get under that table, hold onto that desk and that's the safest place to be," Andrews explained.

Myth No. 4: Earthquakes are more likely in certain kinds of weather.
"There is no such thing as earthquake weather, so it's not always going to be the same. However, there is also an interesting side to this myth in that there is an interaction between the weather and earthquakes, but only for very, very small ones. There's a bit more science to it, but no, we can definitely say there's no such thing as earthquake weather," Andrews clarified.

Myth No. 5: Scientists can predict earthquakes.
"Sadly no. I have to say we have tried everything. People have tried watching animals, they've tried electromagnetic signals, gas emissions, weather, everything, and just nothing works. There is some truth to animals reacting slightly before people (in earthquakes), but it's partly because we think they can sense foreshock activity that maybe humans aren't sensitive to. But no, they're no use in us predicting particularly useful earthquakes," Andrews said.
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