Science

NASA study: a 5.0 earthquake will hit LA soon

The snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains provide a backdrop to the downtown Los Angeles skyline as seen from Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area in Baldwin Hills, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014.

The snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains provide a backdrop to the downtown Los Angeles skyline as seen from Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area in Baldwin Hills, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014.  (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is out with a study predicting that Los Angeles has a 99.9% chance of experiencing an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.0 or greater within the next two and a half years.

"There’s enough energy stored to produce about a magnitude 6.1 to 6.3 earthquake" with an epicenter in La Habra, which was hit by a quake in 2014, says a JPL geophysicist, per CBS LA.

Earthquake scientists used information from the La Habra quake to make their predictions, and found that there's a 35% chance of an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.0 or greater, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

But other experts aren't convinced; KPCC goes so far as to call the JPL study "controversial." As the US Geological Survey notes, "the accepted random chance of a (magnitude 5.0) or greater in this area in three years is 85%, independent of the analysis in this paper." Plus, JPL's research "has not yet been examined by the long-established committees that evaluate earthquake forecasts and predictions made by scientists," the USGS says, per LA Weekly.

"The lack of details on the method of analysis makes a critical assessment of this approach very difficult." And, as one Caltech seismologist who read the study notes, "As far as I’m concerned there has never been a successful earthquake prediction, and a scientific breakthrough would be required for us to make a scientifically based prediction." But, he adds, since earthquakes tend to cluster, it's not much of a stretch to assume there will be another one in La Habra.

(Only a single survivor remains from another California earthquake.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: NASA to LA: Get Ready for 5.0 Quake

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