General Question

occ's avatar

Do lots of small earthquakes mean a big earthquake is coming?

Asked by occ (4005 points ) December 23rd, 2006
I've lived in the Bay Area for over 3 years and have only felt one tiny earthquake. Now, in the past 3 days, we have had three: two 3.7s and one 3.5...does this mean anything?
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7 Answers

geodork's avatar
It means you live in one of the most tectonically active parts of the country and should expect to feel an earthquake or two every once in awhile. Over time, pressure builds up at the bend in the San Andreas Fault and has to release eventually. This does not necessarily mean a big one is coming. But it is an indicator that more earthquakes could be on the way. read the article at the link below. You say you've lived there for about 3 years. Well, statistically, San Fran is about due for some earthquakes.
burlapmellish's avatar
It is theoretically possible that a shift in one fault line could reposition the stress in another, triggering seismic release, but there's no predictive evidence in the statistics.
annie's avatar
I'm pretty sure that the recent earthquakes have been along the hayward fault in the East Bay - "they
annie's avatar
have been predicting a big earthquake on the hayward fault for 20 years.... All in all, nobody knows when a big earthquake is coming. Could be tomorrow, could be 10 years from now.
sarahsugs's avatar
I've actually heard that several smaller quakes help to prevent one larger quake. Makes sense when you think about it... if the plates shift gradually a little bit at a time, they can avoid a big pressure buildup that would lead to a big jolt.
samkusnetz's avatar
tectonic activity is at such an immense scale that it doesn't make sense to think of it in the scale of single years, let alone days. saying a fault line is 20 years overdue for a major quake is similar to noting that your bus was a tenth of a second late this morning. so recording seismic activity over the last three days won't tell you anything by itself.

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