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L.A. 'racing' north to San Francisco

By WITH ANALYSIS FROM MONITOR CORRESPONDENTS AROUND THE WORLD, EDITED BY RANDY SHIPP / December 12, 1980



San Francisco

The San Andreas fault is moving six times faster than previously thought, scientists say. Bradley Erskine, a University of California graduate student, told the annual meeting of the American Geophysics Union that the area of California west of the fault seems to have moved 750 miles, rather than 400 miles as calculated previously. He said the landmass continues to move a couple of inches a year, and that eventually, in millions of years, Los Angeles will be north of San Francisco. The surprising thing about the San Andreas movement, he said, is that most of it has occured within the last 15 million years, not gradually over the 100 million-year period since the rock mass was formed.

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"To a geologist," Mr. Erskine said, "this is quite fast."