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California has plenty of faults—seismic faults, that is.
Join Atlas Obscura Society Los Angeles on a rocky road trip across Southern California in search of the seismic hazards of the Los Angeles Basin and Mojave Desert that are shaping our earth and wrenching our neighborhoods apart—moving them in two opposing directions.
Along with USGS System Administrator Stan Schwarz—who built and runs the USGS Earthquake Notification Service—and research geophysicist Morgan Page, we'll start and end our journey at the Caltech Seismological Laboratory. The "Seismo Lab" is a focal point for earthquake information in Southern California, including a repository of antique seismometers and a media center from which scientists alert and inform the public about seismic activity.
On our bus adventure, we'll view the actual San Andreas Fault line from a vista point in the Antelope Valley and a spot where the freeway crosses the fault. With an earthquake expert and accomplished researcher as our guide, we'll seek out visible evidence of fault movements, which have created, among other geological phenomena, Lost Lake—an unexpected body of water in the middle of the desert formed in a sunken patch of land between two fault strands. No streams feed it or drain it. The water just comes up out of the fault.
Elsewhere, a landscaping feature that looks like a grassy knoll is actually a surface rupture from the 1971 San Fernando earthquake—in a McDonald's parking lot in the Valley.
Come with us to learn about ancient and other historical earthquakes, as well as the future threats to life as we know it—if you dare.*
*Actual seismic activity during our excursion not guaranteed.