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California is no stranger to earthquakes, but a fault in Santa Barbara could be more serious than previously thought.

Erika Owen
February 16, 2017

Scientists are paying more attention to a fault underneath Santa Barbara, California.

The 60-mile Ventura-Pitas Point has some people nervous about its proximity to the surface of the Earth—it was previously thought to be located much deeper.

Faults positioned closer to the surface can do more damage during earthquakes, depending on their proximity to the ocean. In a report published in Geophysical Research Letters, researchers from Appalachian State University, University of California Riverside, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Smith College state that the newly evaluated fault could contribute to magnitude 8.0 earthquakes.

The fault runs between Ventura, California and Santa Barbara. Given that part of the crack also lives underneath the Pacific Ocean, activity could also contribute to tsunamis. Gizmodo reports that there's some debate on the fault's form: Some believe it's smooth with a steep dip, and others think it's a smooth horizontal plateau.

Researchers are currently studying the fault, attempting to nail down its official shape and location. Scientists and researchers have confirmed that this is a major fault, and could be the source of future major earthquakes.

The good news: Thanks to the researchers models and work, they will be able to better match up earthquake simulations with the real deal, helping to create a more shock-resistant environment.

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