Scientists: Big earthquakes start with small ones

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National News

August 21, 2019 - 11:16 AM

A mobile home dislodged from its foundation in last month's 6.4 earthquake in Ridgecrest, Calif. (TNS)

LOS ANGELES — The vast majority of earthquakes we feel come soon after smaller ones, according to new research that provides unprecedented insights into how seismology works.

Sometimes days or even weeks before most temblors of at least magnitude 4.0 strike, scientists have found, smaller ones start rippling beneath the Earth’s surface — activity that can be detected thanks to an advanced computing technique.

“One of the biggest questions in earthquake seismology is how earthquakes get started,” said the study’s lead author, Daniel Trugman, a seismologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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