With a strong enough jolt — a 7.6 -magnitude earthquake — the seafloor under Catalina Island could be violently thrust upward, causing a tsunami along the Southern California coast, according to researchers at the University of Southern California.
Map of offshore Southern California, showing areas (red) where restraining bends have created uplift on the sea floor. During an earthquake, these bends can push the seafloor up and generate a tsunami.
In a pair of journal articles published this month, researchers at the Viterbi School of Engineering described the tsunami hazard associated with offshore faults, including one that lies under Santa Catalina Island, just 25 miles off the Los Angeles coast.
“Catalina Island itself exists due to earthquake-related uplift on a geologic structure known as a restraining bend,” said Mark Legg, a geophysicist working with the USC researchers, in the August issue of Earthquake Spectra. “Although most faults offshore Los Angeles and Orange counties are mostly strike-slip — faults that move side to side — bends in the fault line produce areas where the ground is pushed up during major earthquakes. One of these regions lies directly below Santa Catalina Island.”
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