Easter Sunday Earthquake in Mexicali Sets Stage for San Andreas Quake?

An 7.2 earthquake, larger than the one that devastated Haiti in January 2010, rattled border towns in Mexico and California on Easter Sunday.

The quake was the largest to hit the region in decades and was felt by an estimated 20 million people. With only two deaths reported, the human toll was minimal 

Seismologists from the California Institute of Technology say that the chance of a major quake within the next few days is less than 5 percent, but Sunday’s earthquake could set the stage for more earthquakes to come.

In anticipation of future seismic activity, an earthquake watch has been put in place until April 12. According to seismologists, a 6.0 earthquake or greater may be expected to hit Southern and Baja California in the next few days.

The expected aftershocks could also trigger more earthquakes in other fault lines.

Scientists believe Sunday’s earthquake originated along the Laguna Salada fault that lies south of the San Andreas. The fault has not produced a major temblor in over a century, but since Easter Sunday’s earthquake has sparked aftershocks up to 5.1 in other fault lines.

Earthquakes occur to relieve the stress on a tectonic plate caused by the friction holding it in place. Major earthquakes can cause stress along fault lines and serve as a catalyst for more quakes, even those occurring years later.

Some seismologists believe that the Sumatran quake of 2004 may have set the stage for both the and Haitian quakes this year.

Though scientists can estimate the accumulated strain on a fault line, they cannot predict when a fault will break, causing an earthquake.

According to a recent study by University of Colorado, over 403 million people live in cities that face significant seismic hazard.

By Adriana Padilla for PeterGreenberg.com

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