Originally posted on CBS San Francisco:
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — Certain earthquake fault segments long thought to be stable may rupture and cause a mega-quake, suggests a new study.
That’s what happened during the 2011 magnitude-9 quake in Japan that triggered a tsunami and during the 1999 magnitude-7.6 Chi Chi quake in Taiwan.
In both cases, scientists assumed that “creeping” sections of a fault would serve as a buffer and prevent the entire fault from unzipping. But a new study published online Wednesday in the journal Nature suggests this may not always be the case.