Southern California earthquakes can strike 15 miles below surface, study finds

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- New research found that earthquakes in Southern California can strike much deeper than previously thought. Scientists says this information could help us be better prepared.

This study, which was published in the journal Science, used 5,000 sensors along the Newport-Inglewood fault.

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The bottom line? Researchers found that earthquakes can occur much deeper under the surface than previously believed.

Before the study, most earthquakes were recorded about 10 to 12 miles underground. But scientists found that small earthquakes on this fault were happening 15 miles under the surface.

It's possible that the lower depths could lead to larger earthquakes.

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One of the study's authors said this information could help us all be better prepared.

"If we can estimate the maximum depth to which large ruptures can penetrate, we can have a better understanding or better projections of what are the maximum magnitudes," said Dr. Asaf Inbal with California Institute of Technology.

Seismologists say much more research needs to be done on this fault. A 6.4-magnitude quake struck on this particular fault in Long Beach back in 1933, and 120 people were killed.
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