The Puente Hills Fault: The Los Angeles Area’s Biggest Monster
By Ali Sahabi
Tokyo had Godzilla. But, Los Angeles, for more than a century, has feared the notorious San Andreas Fault. However, we Angelenos have been overlooking a closer and even more deadly monster: the Puente Hills fault, which could kill more people and cause more damage in the Los Angeles Area than the San Andreas because it lies under vulnerable, older neighborhoods, and can produce heavy reverberations felt over a wide area.
A study by the University of Southern California found that the Puente Hills fault has the capacity to produce “the costliest disaster in U.S. history.” As many as 18,000 people could die, 735,000 could lose their homes, and up to 100,000 tons of debris may be generated. The total economic loss would be as high as $252 billion.[i] The United States Geological Survey (USGS) presented similar projections, noting that Puente Hills’ destructive power is five times that of the San Andreas. A 7.5 magnitude earthquake on the nearby Puente Hills fault would cause the same destruction as an 8.0 magnitude earthquake on the more distant San Andreas fault – with an 8.0 magnitude earthquake releasing 16 times the energy of a 7.5 magnitude earthquake.