Could California fall into the sea because of an earthquake? 

Science Fiction or Fact?


According to the California Geological Survey Los Angeles is slowly moving north toward San Francisco relative to the land on the east. And that’s because of the San Andreas Fault System is the dividing line between two tectonic plates. The Pacific Plate and the North American Plate are moving past each other at a rate of about 1.5 inches a year. And although Hollywood like to create disaster movies that show California falling into the ocean, nuclear weapons starting and stopping an earthquake and holes opening up and devouring people, pets and cars the truth is that California falling into the ocean is strictly science fiction.


Earthquakes are waves of energy that travel through the ground when two plates give into pressure and slip and that’s when “a whole lot of shakin” takes place. The friction between the two plates causes stress and when it suddenly releases and blocks of crust slip the ground shakes.


However the very slow lateral movement can cause landslides, and change the coastline over time. So while a big quake can hit quick and last seconds, the geological clock works in millions of year so a big shake is not going to send California into the sea. But over time Los Angeles is coming to San Francisco.

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