Fault along LA, OC coast could unleash huge 7.8-mangitude earthquake, study shows

You look along the coastline at its beauty and you may think about the monster underneath the water, but potentially – there is one.

From Santa Monica to Dana Point there is a fault line, about 70 miles give or take, that stretches across coastal Los Angeles and Orange counties.

It was once thought that the Palos Verdes fault zone was a series of little faults, but a new study from Harvard University suggests otherwise! For some people just hearing about an earthquake that scientists now say could trigger a massive 7.8 quake is unsettling.

If you look back at the Northridge earthquake almost 30 years ago, Bob de Groot with the U.S. Geological Survey says based on the new Harvard University Palos Verdes Fault study, he says, "I think something like this quake would be 45 times larger than the Northridge earthquake in 1994."

Northridge was considered a "moderate" earthquake so, says de Groot, "this is something that's a heck of a lot bigger."

Now that we know from the Harvard study that the Palos Verdes fault line isn't comprised of a bunch of little faults, but a big long one, de Groot says the longer the fault, the bigger the earthquake that can happen on these faults.

There are a lot of things along the fault, like the Port of Los Angeles, the ports of Long Beach, Santa Monica, Venice, LA County and Orange County.

In addition to many infrastructure and ports, there are a lot of people.

"The really good news, though, is that though big earthquakes could happen on this system they don't happen very frequently so it's not like something that could happen in our lifetime," de Groot said.

Nonetheless, de Groot says if you live in Southern California it’s always important to be prepared for anything