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: Groundwater helium level could signal potential risk of earthquake

Related Stories

Rip in crust drives undersea volcanism, says study

November 14, 2016

Scientists analyzing a volcanic eruption at a mid-ocean ridge under the Pacific have come up with a somewhat contrarian explanation for what initiated it. Many scientists say undersea volcanism is triggered mainly by upwelling ...

Stalagmites in Indiana cave may record past earthquakes

September 12, 2016

Stalagmites rising from the floor of a cave in southern Indiana may contain traces of past earthquakes in the region, according to a report published September 13 in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.

Tilting, sinking San Francisco high-rise raises alarm

October 24, 2016

Pamela Buttery noticed something peculiar six years ago while practicing golf putting in her 57th-floor apartment at the luxurious Millennium Tower. The ball kept veering to the same corner of her living room.

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 ...

Recommended for you

0 comments

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.