A series of small tremors in California has sparked fears of a devastating earthquake on the San Andreas Fault, which extends 1,200 kilometres through the US' most populous state. On 10 August, California was struck by a swarm of earthquakes, with the biggest measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale. This is the fourth time in 88 years that the state has experienced a swarm of tremors. California has a history of small earthquakes preceding catastrophic events.
The US Geological Survey said there is now a 1 in 100 chance that an earthquake measuring 7 in magnitude or higher will hit California next week. But the San Andreas Fault is capable of producing devastating events of up to 8.2 magnitude on the Richter scale. The fault consistently produces strong tremors approximately once every 22 years. The last one occurred in 2004.
The prospect of a serious earthquake has prompted authorities in California to introduce measures aimed at strengthening wooden buildings and brittle brick structures. However, hundreds of buildings in Los Angeles still remain at risk of collapsing.