Strong earthquakes, a swarm near San Diego, a tsunami in Death Valley… When the earth shakes from California to Mexico, the fear of the “Big One” is reborn

Seismic activity has been particularly intense from California to Mexico in recent days.

This Thursday morning, a strong earthquake of 6.9 magnitude hit Mexico, in the state of Michoacan. Three days earlier, in the same region, a 7.7 magnitude earthquake had already shaken Mexico.

Enough to wake up old demons in the country, especially since this first took place on September 19 like two other historic earthquakes. In 1985, an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 killed at least 9,500 people while that of September 19, 2017, of magnitude 7.1, killed 360 people.

In recent days, the damage has been less significant, although three people have been killed in total.

Tsunami in Death Valley

But the earthquake of September 19, 2022 had an unprecedented consequence by causing a tsunami in a cave in Death Valley, in the United States, nearly 3,000 kilometers away.

At the time of the earthquake, National Park Service officials were conducting research at Devils Hole in California’s Death Valley when they “witnessed the effects” of the Mexican earthquake. Devils Hole is a water-filled cavern carved into the side of a hill more than 150 meters deep.

“Within five minutes, the normally calm water began to move slowly and quickly turned into waves several feet high,” Death Valley National Park said in a post on Facebook, along with a video showing what it calls a “tsunami in the desert”.

For these witnesses, the Devils Hole is an “inadequate indicator” of seismic activity in the world, noting how large earthquakes that have taken place in Japan, Indonesia and Chile have, each time, a more or less significant effect on the surface of the water in the cave.

25 earthquakes in 24 hours in the Salton Sea

Seismic activity also questions the heart of California. It’s in the Salton Sea that it’s shaking these days. A sea that is a kind of large salt lake inland since it is located 200km east of San Diego. Particularity which comes from the fact that the lake is below sea level because it straddles two tectonic plates.

This Wednesday, the Sacramento Bee reported that geologists had recorded a swarm of earthquakes in a few hours. A total of 25 earthquakes shook the region in 24 hours with relatively low magnitudes, one of which was up to 3.5. The local population did not feel these earthquakes but the seismic news of recent days reminds us of the extent to which the sector is subject to the movements of tectonic plates.

Fear of the “Big One”?

What arouse the fear of the “Big One”, this great devastating earthquake that California has feared for many years? The population is preparing for it in any case since it knows that California experiences a major earthquake approximately every 150 years and that the last terrible earthquake took place in 1906 near San Francisco with a magnitude of 7.8. He had claimed at least 3,000 victims.

The “Big One” is probably not for these days but every Californian knows that we are getting closer every day.

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