LOS ANGELES – Scientists plan to use $2 million in federal "seed money" to try to learn more about the southern San Andreas Fault, including a segment that has not ruptured in more than three centuries.
The 800-mile fault, which slices through California, is best known for producing the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fires that killed about 700 people. It is also one of the most monitored quake sites in the world.
But scientists know little about the southern end of the fault. A 62-mile section near San Bernardino, 60 miles east of Los Angeles, has not popped since an estimated 7.7-magnitude quake in 1690. Scientists fear stress buildup could produce a big earthquake.
The U.S. Geological Survey said Thursday that it would use $2 million in funding proposed in President Bush's budget to study the southern San Andreas, as well as other hazards in Southern California such as tsunamis, landslides and wildfires.
Lucy Jones, in charge of the Geological Survey in Pasadena, said she considered the funding "seed money."
"We're all trying to create a safer Southern California," Jones said.
Seismologists hope to gain a better understanding of the slip rate, or average annual movement, of the southern San Andreas. The rate could be anywhere from eight to 30 millimeters, Jones said.
Jones was at City Hall on Thursday as part of the monthly meeting of the California Seismic Safety Commission, which was created in 1975 to advise governments on earthquake dangers.
The commission met on the 35th anniversary of a magnitude-6.5 quake that killed 65 people in the San Fernando Valley in February 1971.