Chemistry of San Andreas Fault may offer clues to earthquake mysteries

October 22, 2007

Scientists have obtained core samples from deep inside California's San Andreas Fault for the first time, a finding that may lead to a better understanding of the underground molecular events associated with earthquakes, according to an article scheduled for the Oct. 22 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS' weekly newsmagazine.

The 800-mile-long fault that bisects California is infamous as the source of the region's most devastating earthquakes. Conventional sampling of the fault yields slurries of rock chips that are fragmented and difficult to study.

In the article, C&EN senior editor Elizabeth K. Wilson describes how new technology borrowed from the oil-drilling industry allows scientists to reach more than 2 miles into the earth to bring up virtually intact core samples from the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth in Parkfield, Calif.

The core samples will provide an unprecedented picture of the minerals and fluids that are produced at an earthquake source, including new information about the chemistry behind plate movements and fluid flow in fault zones, the writer notes.

"Earthquake scientists around the world have been invited to a "sample party" at Stanford University in December, where they'll get a chance to inspect the cores and request pieces for them to study," Wilson writes.

Source: ACS

Explore further: Japan's slippery earthquake means we might need to rethink our Pacific risk

Related Stories

Megathrust quake faults weaker and less stressed than thought

September 10, 2015

Some of the inner workings of Earth's subduction zones and their "megathrust" faults are revealed in a paper published today in the journal Science. U.S. Geological Survey scientist Jeanne Hardebeck calculated the frictional ...

The moon

September 21, 2015

Look up in the night sky. On a clear night, if you're lucky, you'll catch a glimpse of the moon shining in all it's glory. As Earth's only satellite, the moon has orbited our planet for over three and a half billion years. ...

Seabed samples rewrite earthquake history near Istanbul

March 30, 2015

Located in the Marmara Sea, major earthquakes along the North Anatolian Fault (NAF) system have repeatedly struck what is current-day Istanbul and the surrounding region, but determining the recurrence rate has proven difficult ...

Scientific drilling project underway on Alpine Fault

October 6, 2014

The ambitious project near Whataroa, north of Franz Josef Glacier, is expected to take about two months to complete. It will enable scientists to install monitoring equipment deep inside the fault to record small earthquakes ...

Big quakes more frequent than thought on San Andreas fault

August 20, 2010

Earthquakes have rocked the powerful San Andreas fault that splits California far more often than previously thought, according to UC Irvine and Arizona State University researchers who have charted temblors there stretching ...

Recommended for you

Amazon deforestation leaps 16 percent in 2015

November 28, 2015

Illegal logging and clearing of Brazil's Amazon rainforest increased 16 percent in the last year, the government said, in a setback to the aim of stopping destruction of the world's greatest forest by 2030.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.