Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones debunks earthquake myths

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Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones joined the Eyewitness New desk to explain why small earthquakes happen and what they mean in terms of predicting a bigger one. (KABC)

It's always earthquake season in California.

Just last week, there were several small earthquakes. One hit Buena Park and two others were felt in Ontario.

Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones recently joined the Eyewitness New desk to explain why these little quakes happen and what they mean in terms of predicting a bigger one:

Q. Are small earthquakes a predictor of a bigger one on the way?

A. No, it doesn't necessarily mean something bigger is coming. Every earthquake has a very low chance of triggering something else. It has a big chance of triggering something smaller. They're aftershocks. About 5 percent of the time, the aftershock gets bigger than the main shock and then we're followed by something bigger and we change the name and call the first one a foreshock.

Q. Is it a myth that small quakes relieve pressure from the fault?

A. Yes. They relieve stress, but they don't relieve enough stress. ... If you have small ones, you have to have big ones.

Q. Is it a myth that the weather can affect an earthquake?

A. That's absolutely a myth. ... Earthquakes are happening so deep in the earth that what's happening on the surface doesn't matter. One proof of this is that every culture in the world has a tradition of earthquake weather. But what that weather is is what they had for their most memorable earthquake.

Jones' book about earthquakes is called "Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us."
Related Topics:
scienceearthquakesciencecaliforniastudyGlendaleLos Angeles County
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