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Similarity of Chinese, Calif. Fault Systems Raises Concerns

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

Kenneth Hudnut sees trouble out his window. He works in Pasadena, Calif., in a sunny valley of palm trees, historic bungalows, gourmet coffee shops and elite institutions of higher learning and space technology.

But Hudnut, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey, knows that it also is home to something called the Sierra Madre fault, which is adjacent to something called the Cucamonga fault.

That, in turn, is not far from the fabled San Andreas fault. What worries Hudnut is the possibility of the geological equivalent of dominos: What if an earthquake on one fault causes a chain reaction? That, he believes, is what happened in China last month in the earthquake that has so far been blamed for more than 69,000 deaths.

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