Scientists are watching closely to see if small faults crossing under the Salton Sea are transferring energy to the larger, more dangerous San Andreas fault after a series of small quake swarms in the area.
The quakes appeared to be tapering off by Monday afternoon, according to the monitoring system run by the U.S. Geological Survey and Caltech. But in a 48-hour period starting Saturday morning, 42 quakes shook just south of Bombay Beach on the Salton Sea. The quakes ranged in magnitude from 0.5 to 3.3, with three larger than 3.0 hitting the area Saturday afternoon.
Scientists are particularly interested in the area because an earthquake that starts in Bombay Beach and ripples northwest along the San Andreas fault could be the Big One that devastates Los Angeles, said Graham Kent, a research geophysicist at UC San Diego.
These quakes appear to be taking place at the hazy intersection of several recently mapped faults crossing beneath the Salton Sea and the the San Andreas fault.