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The Incas Deliberately Built Machu Picchu Above Tectonic Fault Lines

Though the motion is typically unnoticeable to the naked eye, rocks continue to push but get stuck on each other's edges. Pressure builds up until stress overcomes friction, creating a sudden release of energy that sends seismic waves through the ground, called earthquakes. The San Andreas fault zone is an mile boundary between the Pacific tectonic plate to the west and the North American plate to the east. Here, the plates grind past each other horizontally at a rate of about 2 inches per year, and the slight motion can cause a few smaller shocks and tremors.

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The fault zone isn't a single line, but a system of faults that snake throughout California, including populous areas such as Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. The last major quake to occur along the San Andreas fault zone was in , when a 7.

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But going more than years without major seismic activity along the fault zone is an anomaly, geologists say, and could portend a massive earthquake along the infamous fault. Though it's difficult to predict the exact timing of when earthquakes will strike or what their magnitude will be, researchers are encouraging residents and local officials to prepare now and retrofit structures to withstand seismic force before the next significant quake -- or the "Big One" -- strikes.

While studies have shown that a quake greater than 5. A mid-magnitude earthquake in the right or worst place could cause devastating damage.

A magnitude 5. This very unstable fault in California has been threatening the San Francisco Bay Area for generations.

Move Over, San Andreas: There’s an Ominous New Fault in Town

The last major movement along the Hayward Fault occurred on October 21, , virtually destroying downtown Hayward. Running for nearly 74 miles through cities including Fremont, Hayward, Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond, the Hayward Fault has the potential to wreak more havoc than most California faults. Over 2.

Starting on the Susitna Glacier Thrust Fault, the rupture raced along the Denali Fault System and continued kilometers until it reached the Totschunda Fault, rattling 70 more kilometers. The estimated magnitude of this earthquake ranged from 7.

This almighty quake caused extensive damage to the transportation systems in central Alaska. This event was literally felt across the nation, even causing waves in pools and lakes in Texas and Louisiana! If you live in an earthquake-prone area, consider adding comprehensive coverage to your policy. Find out what you need to know, and how to be prepared for what nature throws your way. All the news.

Fault (geology)

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