West Napa Fault Capable of Producing ‘Much Larger’ Earthquakes, Seismologists Say

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A large crack was visible in a Napa County road following a large quake on Aug. 24, 2014. (Credit: KTVU)

On the list of California’s most dangerous earthquake faults, the West Napa Fault in the Bay Area doesn’t rank as especially notorious. It’s about 20 miles, much shorter than the better-known Hayward and Rodgers Creek faults, which are capable of a 7.2 magnitude quake.

But Sunday’s 6.0 earthquake showed the fault that runs just west of the Napa Valley isn’t to be ignored. It produced the largest earthquake in the Bay Area since the deadly 6.9 Loma Prieta quake in 1989.

The shaking was dwarfed both in magnitude and sheer destruction by much larger earthquakes, such as the 1989 quake as well as the 1994 and 1971 temblors in the San Fernando Valley.

But considering that Sunday’s earthquake ran less than half the length of the fault, scientists said the temblor could have been worse.

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