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‘The Big One’ Discussed At Earthquake Conference

“The Big One” could be just around the corner, according to California seismologists.

Earthquake experts from across California and around the world gathered at the Hilton Palm Springs Resort Monday for the 2010 annual meeting of the Southern California Earthquake Center.

Emergency officials stressed that quakes are unpredictable and that residents should always be prepared for the worst.

The experts discussed all aspects of earthquake science.

A group of scientist kicked off the event by flying over the San Andreas Fault. They started their trip in Palm Springs and examined key sections of the potentially disastrous fault line.

A clear look of the fault showed a flat surface, and to the left — rugged mountains and terrain.

Experts said the last major earthquake to hit the Coachella Valley was in 1690.

“The evidence shows earthquakes happens every 150 years or so here and so that’s been over twice as long,” said Mark Benthien, with the Southern California Earthquake center.

Benthien said that science shows “the big one” is long overdue.

Monday morning’s trip, sponsored by Fault Line LLC, is just another opportunity for scientists to gather information.

“(We) look at what fault has done in the last several centuries and we compare it with the time interval of the overall picture,” said Lisa Grant PhD., with UC Irvine. “We get is it’s more or less ready. It could go at any time. (That) doesn’t mean that it will, but it could.”

Power lines and an aqueduct lined up along the fault were spotted for miles — a potential hazard if a major quake strikes.

“Gas and fuel lines will probably be broken, so there’s a big challenge to your home and welfare once the San Andreas actually goes,” said Kate Scharer, with Appalachian State University.

Scientists said the San Andreas Fault is capable of producing a magnitude 8.0 earthquake or higher.

More than 500 scientists and students from around the world will be discussing nothing but quake in Palm Springs the next few days.

From the destructive quakes in Haiti and Chile to the Baja California shaker this year, experts said a monster earthquake hitting the desert is highly possible.

“About a 60 percent chance in the next 30 years and that doesn’t mean 30 years from now,” said Benthien. “That means it could happen today or sometime in the next 30 years.”

The conference ends on Wednesday.

One way to prepare for the “the big one” is the Great California Shakeout.

More than 5.4 million people will participate in the earthquake drill.

KESQ News Team

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