The Next Big One. . .

The Next Big One. . .
Vol: 80 Issue: 22 Thursday, May 22, 2008

The catastrophic 7.9 earthquake that decimated sections of western China have geologists the world over scrambling to predict the next “Big One” to shake the planet.

The number of people killed in China’s devastating earthquake has already risen to over 51,000. More than 29,000 are still missing after the 7.9 magnitude quake struck the south-western province of Sichuan, meaning the final death toll could go as high as 80,000 people.

That number is simply too large for the mind to absorb. It would be as if the entire population of Youngstown, Ohio had been swallowed up by the earth. But according to geologists, the Sichuan quake may be just one in a swarm of major global earthquakes they say are long overdue.

In California, a team of about 300 scientists, governments, first responders and industries worked for more than a year to create a realistic crisis scenario that can be used for earthquake preparedness drills. This is the scenario they envisioned, as published by the USGS.

The 7.8 earthquake rips along the San Andreas Faultline, shaking the Los Angles basin like a bowl of jelly, fifteen times as powerful as the 1994 Northridge quake. Water and sewer pipes crack. Power fails. Part of major highways break. Some high-rise steel frame buildings and older concrete and brick structures collapse.

Hospitals are swamped with 50,000 injured as all of Southern California reels from a blow on par with the Sept. 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina: $200 billion in damage to the economy, and 1,800 dead.

Researchers caution that it is not a prediction, but the possibility of a major California quake in the next few decades is very real.

Last month, the USGS reported that the Golden State has a 46 percent chance of a 7.5 or larger quake in the next 30 years, and that such a quake probably would hit Southern California. The Northridge quake, which killed 72 people and caused $25 billion in damage, was much smaller at magnitude 6.7.

In imagining the next “Big One,” scientists considered the section of the San Andreas loaded with the most stored energy and the most primed to break. Most agree it’s the southernmost segment, which has not “popped” since 1690, when it unleashed an estimated 7.7 jolt.

Of course, southern California has been bracing for the “Big One” ever since the last “Big One” in San Francisco in 1906. The Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 hit near Mussel Rock about 2 miles offshore from the downtown area. Estimated to be a magnitude 7.8, it was felt from Oregon to Los Angeles and inland as far as central Nevada.

A typically melodramatic headline at MSNBC asks, “Are You Prepared For the Next Big One?”, over the subtitle, “US Scientists Say It’s Not a Question of If, But When.


Hal Lindsey did a report last week sometime detailing the increase in both the frequency and intensity of earthquake activity over the past five decades since he first published “The Late, Great Planet Earth.”

I helped him research the background for that story at the US Geological Survey and I was simply stunned at what I found. In the early 1990’s the USGS issued a press release denying that earthquakes were increasing, saying instead that we have simply gotten better at detecting them.

That might be true when speaking of the 3.6 magnitude kind that rattle a few dishes — that doesn’t hold water when one is addressing “major” earthquakes. When buildings start collapsing, specialized detection equipment is irrelevant.

Using the USGS definition of major quakes, there have been more major earthquakes in the seven years since the turn of the 21st century than have occurred in any TWO decades of the 20th.

This is, of course, significant because Jesus warned of increasingly frequent and intense earthquake activity as being a principle sign of His soon return. And they are increasing, just as the Lord said they would.

In 1977, for example, the USGS listed forty ‘major’ quakes, defined as those of “magnitude 6.5 or greater or caused significant fatalities, injuries or damage.”

For 2007, I counted seventy-seven — nearly twice that of thirty years earlier. As of May 12, 2008, the USGS says there have already been thirty-five major earthquakes — and scientists the world over are warning of the next Big One.

America’s attention is, of course focused on the San Andreas Fault. Globally, geologists are much more concerned about the Carmel Fault line. They say the last time the Carmel Fault ruptured was over a thousand years ago, in 1033.

The Carmel Fault line intersects with another major fault line, the Dead Sea Fault. And located directly above where these two fault lines intersect is the northern Israeli city of Megiddo.

According to Israeli earthquake researcher, Dr. Amos Salomon of the Israeli Geological Survey, Megiddo (Armageddon in the Bible) is the most likely epicenter for the Next Big One to strike Israel. And like the MSNBC headline, it isn’t an issue of if, but when.

According to a report on the subject in the Jerusalem Post, “We think that the focus of major earthquakes will be in and around the Dead Sea Fault. The seismic waves will spread around the epicenter and they will affect buildings far away from the focus,” says Salamon.”

The Dead Sea Fault runs the length of Israel, north to south, passing through Eilat, Tiberias and coming within 25 miles of Jerusalem. The tectonic plates are shallowest in this area, making earthquakes on this fault, while infrequent, among the world’s largest and most destructive.

Both Turkey and Greece have experienced major quakes in recent times. In fact, geologists have noted recently that the floor of the Mediterranean sea is fracturing like a sheet of glass.

This means that the focal point of tectonic forces is shifting in the region, and an increase in activity is approaching.

The Prophet Zechariah says that when the Lord returns at the conclusion of the battle of Armageddon, He will ‘touch down’ atop the Mount of Olives.

“And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” (Zechariah 14:4)

According to the Prophet, when His feet touch down on the Mount of Olives, an earthquake will open a valley from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea.

“And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.” (Zechariah 14:8)

The Prophet Zechariah wrote his prophecy concerning the return of the Lord sometime after 480 BC, five hundred years before His First Advent. Zechariah did NOT have geological survey maps and charts showing him where the Dead Sea and Carmel Fault lines are.

There hasn’t been a major shift in the tectonic plates of that region in a thousand years. According to the Israeli Geological Survey, the next one is overdue. And according to the Bible, when it comes, so will Jesus.

“And when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)

Is your neck as stiff as mine is?

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About Pete Garcia

Christian, father, husband, veteran, pilot, and sinner saved by grace. I am a firm believer in, and follower of Jesus Christ. I am Pre-Trib, Dispensational, and Non-Denominational (but I lean Southern Baptist).

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