Earthquake specialists have challenged the statement of a Whittier College geology professor that an 8.0 temblor on the San Andreas fault would cause little more damage in Whittier than the recent 5.9 earthquake and its aftershocks.
The professor, Dallas Rhodes, told a Whittier meeting of more than 600 people last month that predictions based on the Mercalli Modified scale showed that Whittier would sustain damage of 6 or 7 during the San Andreas quake. The Oct. 1 earthquake rated between a 7 and 8 on the Mercalli scale, which measures earthquake damage.
But Richard Andrews, assistant director of the governor's Office of Emergency Services, said that although Whittier may sustain a comparable intensity of ground movement during the San Andreas earthquake, the duration will be 10 to 15 times longer than the four to five seconds of the Oct. 1 earthquake.
U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Steve Hartznell agreed, saying his agency refrains from making such predictions because "it just gets us in trouble."