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Major earthquakes not linked

A big rupture does not increase the likelihood of another one far away

Big earthquakes like the Sendai quake that devastated Japan in March don’t cause similar disasters on the other side of the globe, a new study suggests.

Like ranks of falling dominoes, tremors on the scale of the Sendai quake can trigger other earthquakes, say geophysicists at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif. But, based on analyses of about 30 years of seismic data, those shocks are all very small or sit close to the original fault break, the group reports online March 27 in Nature Geoscience.

“If California is ready to go, it’s because California is ready to go,” says Jian Lin, a geophysicist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts. “Not because an earthquake in California would be triggered by Japan.”

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