State officials said the part of the Santa Monica fault they now believe runs through Beverly Hills' shopping district is considered inferred based off of a geology investigation done in preparation for the Metro subway and geology data east of the civic center.
Beverly Hills spokeswoman Therese Kosterman said the city is aware of the new Santa Monica fault map issued by the state. "The current map has significant revisions from the earlier draft map that the city had commented on and so we are currently in the process of evaluating the changes," Kosterman said in an email.
More study over the coming years and decades will help improve maps of the fault. One research technique state geologists hope to pursue with the U.S. Geological Survey is to send waves of energy underground, such as through a hammer, and then see how they move through the earth. If a fault is there, the energy will move in a specific way, and studying it will help scientists better map the fault.
The threat of destruction on top of faults is such a risk that some agencies have taken steps to vacate or demolish buildings directly on top of them. San Bernardino Valley College demolished seven buildings along the San Jacinto fault in the 2000s; in 1991, Los Angeles Southwest College tore down two that sat on top of the Newport-Inglewood fault.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, officials in Hayward ordered its historic city hall vacated after the Hayward fault was slowly tearing it apart. Fremont demolished its city hall after geologists said it was on top of the same fault.
In areas that were developed after fault map studies were published, developers have avoided building on top of the fault, placing buildings away from fault lines while still building in the fault zone.
Developers in Signal Hill built homes carefully away from the Newport-Inglewood fault; parks and trails were instead placed where the fault could more safely split in two.
In Huntington Beach, after the discovery of a fault underneath the northern portion of the Seacliff Village shopping center, developers demolished the center and rebuilt it, placing a parking lot directly on top of the fault.
Sometimes, though, it can be impossible to transform a small plot of land bisected by a fault line into a new development.
The release of this fault map does not mean scientists are done. Geologists don't know where the Santa Monica fault ends.