Recent Earthquakes in LA, Chile Have Experts Worried About Aftershock

Thursday, 03 Apr 2014 01:05 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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A series of recent earthquakes, first in Los Angeles last week and then Tuesday's 8.2-magnitude tremor in Chile, has experts concerned that a larger quake could soon strike somewhere in the Pacific "Ring of Fire."

Thousands of earthquakes happen each year, including about 150 that register over a magnitude of 6, The Daily Beast reported, but most aren’t talked about because they don’t affect large, populated areas. Looking at earthquake data over the past couple of months, The Beast pointed out that there were 483 earthquakes of 4.5 magnitude or greater in March and 574 the month before.

A look at the earthquake section of the U.S. Geological Survey website affirms that data, with a long list of "Significant Earthquakes" in the past 30 days.

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Many of the recent earthquakes have struck along the Ring of Fire, a circle of earthquake-prone areas around the Pacific Rim. Kate Hutton, a seismologist at the California Institute of Technology, told ABC News that the risk is larger there because of two plates underneath the earth's surface that often bump against one another.

"That affects South America, the California coast, Alaska, Japan, the Philippines. Basically any places around the Pacific Rim are at risk," she said.

Photos and video of the devastation in Chile continue to circulate online this week and Hutton says there may be still be small tremors in the surrounding area.

"The biggest risk is aftershocks for the 8.2 in the same area where the 8.2 occurred," she told ABC News. "They’ll become less frequent with time, but the risk still exists for days and weeks."

After recent earthquakes, Democratic lawmakers from California, Oregon, and Washington are hoping to fund an earthquake warning system, which would cost about $38 million to build and $16 million each year to maintain, the Los Angeles Times reported. Such a system would give off earthquake warnings that have the potential to save lives, proponents say.

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