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Will the prolonged drought in California affect the propagation of different waves during an earthquake? Would the significant drop in soil moisture make the strata more or less rigid thereby affecting the velocity of the different waves associated with the quake? This question was asked by a colleague of mine while researching the Earth Science standards for Next Generation Science Standard, so it's more advanced than a normal question from a high school student!
Answer 1:

I doubt that it would since I would expect surface earthquake waves to be able to still extend deep enough to reach the water table, even in a prolonged drought.

For example, I don't believe there is much difference between the earthquakes responsible for uplifting the Himalaya in Nepal (which would be tropical rain forest but for the agriculture) versus those responsible for the same mountain range in Pakistan (which is mostly desert).



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