CALIPATRIA, CA - JULY 3: Foundations of buildings of an early 20th century resort that was used before the rising waters of the Salton Sea turned this hill into Mullet Island, one of the four Salton ... more 
CALIPATRIA, CA - JULY 3: Foundations of buildings of an early 20th century resort that was used before the rising waters of the Salton Sea turned this hill into Mullet Island, one of the four Salton Buttes, small volcanoes on the southern San Andreas Fault, are seen on July 3 near Calipatria, California. Mullet Island, the only place for many thousands of island nesting birds to breed at the Salton Sea, will become vulnerable to attacks by predators such as raccoons and coyotes if the water level drops just a couple more feet. Scientists have discovered that human-created changes effecting the Salton Sea appear to be the reason why California's massive "Big One" earthquake is more than 100 years overdue and building up for the greatest disaster ever to hit Los Angeles and Southern California. Researchers found that strands of the San Andreas Fault under the 45-mile long rift lake have have generated at least five 7.0 or larger quakes about every 180 years. This ended in the early 20th century when authorities stopped massive amounts of Colorado River water from periodically flooding the into this sub-sea level desert basin. Such floods used to regularly trigger major quakes and relieve building seismic pressure but the last big earthquake on the southern San Andreas was about 325 years ago. Dangerous new fault branches that could trigger a 7.8 quake have recently been discovered under the Salton Sea. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images) less 
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Getty Images | Photo By David McNew / Getty Images
Thu, Jul 7, 2011 4:59 PM EDT