Angelenos live under constant threat of a major earthquake, but a controversial new study from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory puts a number on that threat. The scientific paper claims there is a 99.9 percent chance of an earthquake between magnitude 5 and 6.3 in less than three years.
Lead author, Andrea Donnellan of JPL, said this study used GPS and airborne radar data to look at land deformation caused by last year's 5.1 La Habra earthquake. Her team determined that, based on the surface changes, there is still a fair amount of pent-up seismic energy in the region that needs to be released.
“It’s almost like using the surface of the Earth as an instrument to understand what is going on deeper," she explained.
That energy could spawn shaking associated with a magnitude 5 or 6 temblor, she added, but that energy could crop up on any number of faults within a 100-kilometer range of last year's quake.
This sort of prediction is quite common. What isn't common is claiming a 99.9 percent chance of such a quake in a window of time as small as three years.
Read more: Controversial study claims 99.9 percent chance of major Los Angeles earthquake in 3 years | 89.3 KPCC