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It’s impossible to know when the San Andreas Fault will erupt with its next big earthquake — a temblor that could impact the nearly 13 million people who live in the Los Angeles metro area — but it appears that two other nearby faults might have some say in that matter.

The San Andreas Fault is part of a giant “Z” of faults; the top of the “Z” consists of the Ridgecrest Fault, the middle is the Garlock Fault and the bottom is the southern part of the famous San Andreas. If the “top-of-the-Z” Ridgecrest Fault were to have a really big earthquake (at least a magnitude 7.5), that could trigger an earthquake on the “middle-of-the-Z” Garlock Fault, which, in turn, could cause a massive earthquake along the “bottom-of-the-Z” San Andreas, a new study finds. 

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