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News Briefs II

New Earthquake Fault Brought to Light


Previously secret oil company data reveal a major active fault system under metropolitan Los Angeles that most likely caused the magnitude 5.9 Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987, researchers said Thursday.

This buried fracture may be capable of larger and even more damaging earthquakes than the 1994 Northridge quake, according to the research, published in Friday’s edition of Science.

The discovery is the latest in a series of recent findings about regional seismic hazards that has some experts questioning whether earthquake engineering safety standards and building codes in Southern California should be strengthened.

The newly found fault “is clearly a source of major earthquakes and likely could produce much damage to the L.A. area,” said Harvard University geophysicist John H. Shaw, who conducted the study with Peter M. Shearer at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. “This fault system has not been considered in previous hazard assessments.”

Christened the Puente Hills fault, the newly discovered fault zone runs in three broad segments for almost 25 miles, under downtown Los Angeles and into northern Orange County, encompassing several hundred square miles of densely settled urban areas.

Elizabeth Dole Plans GOP Presidential Run


In a dramatic entry into the crowded Republican presidential race, Elizabeth Dole plans to take the first formal steps toward a candidacy -- and broadcast her first televised campaign messages -- next Wednesday, sources close to her said.

“The gun has sounded,” said one senior Dole adviser.

Dole, the former president of the American Red Cross, plans to announce in Des Moines, Iowa, next Wednesday that she will form an exploratory committee to examine a bid for the presidency.

That same day she plans to buy television time in both Iowa and New Hampshire -- the two key states at the front of the electoral calendar -- to broadcast a 15-minute version of her announcement speech, sources in her campaign said.

Buying television time almost a year before voters in those states will go to the polls is unusual. When asked why the campaign was taking the step, the adviser said flatly: “We are trying to win.”

After appearing in Iowa, Dole also plans to travel next week to New Hampshire and Arizona (also home to an important early primary) and her home state of North Carolina.

Dole is the wife of 1996 GOP nominee Bob Dole.