As if the folks in California didn’t have enough to worry about, what with crippling drought, an ongoing methane leak and all those pesky fault lines running under their cities. Now a prominent U.S. geophysicist is adding to the worries after she revealed that two of the most prominent fault lines under California may actually join under the San Pablo Bay to create a mega-fault that could result in even bigger, more devastating earthquakes.

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Geophysicist Janet Watt says that recent research indicates that the Hayward Fault, the most populated fault on Earth and the Rodgers Creek Fault are connected under San Pablo Bay. Watt said that they now have direct evidence that the two faults are linked together. If they should “crack” at one time, they could produce an earthquake of at least a 7.3 magnitude — larger than the Loma Prieta earthquake that killed 63 in 1989.

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Watt said she made the discovery while using an acoustic survey instrument during an underwater survey in San Pablo Bay. “It would be devastating for an earthquake to rupture at both those faults — it’d be a very strong earthquake. If these two faults are connected then that means it would be easier for an earthquake to rupture from the Hayward to Rodgers or vice versa,” she said. It was previously thought that the space between the two earthquakes was at least 2.5 miles. Scientists will now work to confirm Watt’s discovery.

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The San Francisco area is plagued by large earthquakes, the most recent a 6.0 in August of 2014 that damaged buildings, started fires, and left many without power. The quake hit the heart of wine country, between American Canyon and Napa, Leslie Gordon, of the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The largest earthquake to ever hit San Francisco was the 1906 quake that hit a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter Scale.

Via The Daily Mail

Lead image via Shutterstock, images via USGS