New Zealand was struck by an earthquake having a magnitude of 7.8, in November 2016. The scientists said that the Kaikoura earthquake is the most complex one recorded till now. Their findings also suggest higher risks of earthquakes taking place elsewhere and these include the so-called Big One in California.
Individual faults and size of potential quakes
Seismologists had long thought that individual faults and isolated segments of longer faults rupture independently of them. The idea estimates the size of potential earthquakes.
The outcomes of a new study of the New Zealand earthquake, one of the biggest that struck the island in modern history, however, puts this idea into a mystery.
One of the researcher of the study, Ian Hamling, from the GNS Science in New Zealand and colleagues noticed that the large earthquake that has taken place just after midnight on Nov. 14, 2016, was because of the ruptures of at least 12 different faults. The quake was very powerful enough to cause seabed to release out of the water exposing seaweed-covered rocks and marine animals above tide levels.
Underrated seismic hazards
The outcomes of the study suggest that scientists may have been underestimating seismic hazards with the thought that slips on isolated faults may not add to something bigger.
The New Zealand earthquake was far bigger that it would have been if it did not jump the gaps. The Kaikoura earthquake burst in stages along separate faults, which has caused more shaking.
Scientists assume that previously undiagnosed connecting faults could be behind this and the faults involved in the earthquake may add up lower on the ground.
Higher risks of magnitude 8 or greater earthquakes happening
The phenomenon increases the size of a potential earthquake. It also alters the likeliness of bigger earthquakes. The Big One is the hypothetical earthquake that may have magnitude 8 or greater and is expected to take place in California’s San Andreas Fault. Many faults acting together gives more ways to set up big earthquakes which improved their likelihood.