Californians are being told to brace for ‘the big one’ – a massive earthquake that typically occurs every 400 to 600 years and could leave thousands dead or homeless.
The ‘Big One’ is a hypothetical earthquake of magnitude 8 or greater that is expected to happen along the San Andreas fault.
Such a quake is expected to produce devastation to human civilization within about 50-100 miles of the quake zone, especially in urban areas like Palm Springs, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
An earthquake scientist has added to claims the dreaded event is overdue, warning the San Andreas fault is ‘locked, loaded and ready to roll’.
The fault is the longest in California and one of the state’s most dangerous.
Thomas Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Centre, said the fault has been ‘too quiet’ since 1857.
Speaking at the National Earthquake Conference in Long Beach, Mr Jordan said: ‘The springs on the San Andreas system have been wound very, very tight and the southern San Andreas fault, in particular, looks like it’s locked, loaded and ready to go.’
He also said other sections of the 810 mile-long (1,304km) fault are overdue for a quake too, the Los Angeles Times reported.