A massive project to study the mysterious land uplift in Southern California is being launched in January involving 36 scientific teams from federal and local agencies.

The 32,000 square-mile uplift, discovered in 1976 by the U.S. Geological Survey, will be the target of a precisc, detailed measurement. The $1.4 million study, will incolve 300 earthquake experts.

"The arcal extent and amount of elevation change raise the possibility that, if released in a single earthquake, the stored energy could vield a sesimic events as large as the Great Earthquake of 1857 centered along the San Andreas Fault north of Los Angeies which had a magnitude estimated at about 3.0 on the Richter scale," said Dr. Robert M. Hamilton, chief of the geological survey's Office of Earthquake Studies.

On the other hand, Hamilton said, "the energy could be released in a series of events of magnitude 6.0 or greater spread out over many years and over many segments of subsidiary faults from Santa Barbara to San Bernardino, and from Palmdale to Imperial Valley."

The Richter scale measures ground movement in a quake an dfor each increase of one on the scale, movement increases 10 times. The San Francisco carthquake of 1906, which occurred before the development of the scale, has been estimated at 8.3.