Big One warning: Earthquake surge puts US on alert – sparks 'imminent' mega-quake panic

A ‘swarmageddon’ has struck California in recent weeks, prompting concerns that a mega-quake is imminent in the volatile US state. California, which sits along the Pacific Ring of Fire, has been hit by more than 1,000 small earthquakes in the past three weeks. The shock earthquake surge has raised fears of the long-anticipated Big One.

Thousands of minor earthquakes have struck San Bernardino and Riverside counties in less than a month.

Experts warned that the small earthquakes, especially those near fault lines like the San Andreas, could be disastrous warning signs.

According to a newly-published report, these quakes could "reawaken" the fault, which has the ability to produce a magnitude-8.2 quake.

This size of mega-quake would spark an almost immediate tsunami and cause widespread devastation. 

Andrea Llenos, a research geophysicist with the US Geological Survey, admitted: “Any time you have an increase in the number of small earthquakes you’re likely to increase the likelihood of a slightly larger earthquake happening.

"I would redefine normal as: You should still be prepared for a large earthquake.

“We do know a big earthquake is going to happen.”

Dr Llenos warned that if the surge continues, a significant earthquake in California would be increasingly imminent.

Fellow USGS scientist Robert Graves added that the earthquake swarm was likely due to small cracks or a weakness in the Earth’s crust.

According to Dr Graves, a magnitude-7 quake would have a fault length of about 30 miles, while a magnitude-8 event would have a fault length of more than 250 miles.

He pointed out that the recent swarm activity took place in a much smaller region of only a few square miles.

Seismologist Lucy Jones downplayed the prospect of a cataclysmic earthquake, telling the LA Times: “The idea that little earthquakes make the Big One less likely doesn’t work.

"And the idea that it makes it certain to happen doesn’t work.

“Any earthquake has a slight increase in the chance of having something worse on the way. But mostly, it’s really small."

According to the latest prediction, there is only a five percent chance that any single earthquake will be followed by a large one.

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