When the pressure building up in the San Andreas Fault is finally unleashed, the accompanying earthquake will change California forever. This is what will happen when the big one hits.
The San Andreas Fault is where two tectonic plates meet in California, and it's the reason why the state receives so many earthquakes. The fault line stretches for 1,200 kilometres and is the boundary between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates.
A UC Berkley professor by the name of Andrew Lawson identified the fault in 1895 and, since then, scientists and geologists have been studying the 30-million-year-old formation to find out more about it.
What some smart seismologists discovered is that the San Andreas Fault throws up a 6.0 magnitude earthquake approximately every 22 years, give or take a few years. The last one, although it arrived 9-years late, was in 2004, so another one is due soon.
Since then, scientists have become increasingly concerned that, because of the enormous pressure the plates are currently under, that "The Big One" is going to happen sooner rather than later. Basically, The Big One refers to a quake that will read over 7 on the Richter scale.
Now, the San Andreas Fault is split into three, namely the northern, central, and southern sections. The latter hasn't experienced a rupture of that magnitude in 300 years, and when it does, the damage will be devastating.
According to Wikipedia, "The southern segment, which stretches from Parkfield in Monterey County all the way to the Salton Sea, and is capable of an 8.1-magnitude earthquake. At its closest, this fault passes about 35 miles (56 km) to the northeast of Los Angeles. Such a large earthquake on this southern segment would kill thousands of people in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, and surrounding areas, and cause hundreds of billions of dollars in damage."
To get a better understanding of the San Andreas Fault and the impending Big One, then Geographics host, Simon Whistler, will tell you all about it in the YouTube video below. It's unbelievable to think a natural disaster of this magnitude is likely in our lifetime.