Strange earthquakes shake the southern California land. Situated on the Newport-Inglewood Fault near Long Beach, California, these tiny earthquakes occur from dozens of kilometers underground. According to a report by seismologists published in Science on October 7, rocks at this depth are too hot and soft to collapse, so an earthquake occurs, and therefore there is the possibility of a new type of earthquake that has not yet been scientifically investigated and proven.
“This is a broad open question, to which we do not have a good answer,” says co-author Asaf Inbal, a seismologist at Caltech.
Regardless of their mysterious roots, these earthquakes are not dangerous, scientists say.
“Fortunately for us, they remain small and do not turn into larger, potentially dangerous events,” says Yuri Fialko, a geophysicist at the Scripps Institute for Oceanography in La Hoya, California. However, small earthquakes “can eventually lead to the emergence of larger earthquakes” and require further research.
Inbal, together with his team, studied the data of a six-month study in 2011, in which about 5300 seismometers in this particular area were discovered. It was one of the most concentrated sums that were ever located above such a fault. These data were combined with data from a smaller study of 2013 that amplified uncertain earthquake signals above background noise. The deepest earthquakes were recorded from the upper mantle of the Earth at a depth of more than 30 kilometers. According to scientists, this is much lower than the usual seismically active zone, characteristic for this fault.
The researchers explain that this may be caused, apparently, by the upper mantle fluids that flow into the fault and create a high pressure expanding the depth of seismic activity. Further analysis will show whether this theory is justified.
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