Global Earthquake Response Center


Question:Could a powerful enough earthquake cause California to break off and fall into the ocean? Answer:No. It's a common misconception that much of western California is a fragile shelf of land that will one day crack at the legendary San Andreas Fault and collapse into the Pacific Ocean. According to "Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country," a 1995 booklet by the Southern California Earthquake Center, "the ocean is not a great hole into which California can fall, but it is itself land at a somewhat lower elevation with water above it."

Remember that even islands are not free-floating pieces of land resting atop the ocean -- they're just portions of the earth's surface that are higher than the ocean floor.

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