The US West Coast has one of the largest urban concentrations in the country, which is why they try to always stay on guard considering what exactly their cities and communities are built nearby of. The fear of “The Big One,” an earthquake of magnitude 7.0 or above emanating from the imposing and intimidating San Andreas Fault has always been a shadow behind the minds of everyone living in California and neighboring States, especially as scientists believe the fault was due to make one soon. While the earthquake that occurred this Thursday was not that expected quake, it was still something that rocked the region.
CNN has it that southern California was buffeted on the Fourth of July itself by a quake that is recorded as the strongest to hit the area after two decades. Measuring at a magnitude of 6.4 the epicenter of the tremors was located at the Ridgecrest community, north of Los Angeles and west of the Mojave Desert. From that origin point, seismic shocks were felt from as far northeast as Las Vegas, Nevada and southwest as Orange County. US Geological Service seismologist Robert Graves noted that following the main earthquake were no less than 159 aftershocks, the weakest of which measured no lower than magnitude 2.5, and 4.6 at highest.
Due to its proximity to the epicenter of the now-called Searles Valley Quake, Ridgecrest manifested the most visible signs of seismological damage. An iconic photograph of the aftermath was a road leading out of the community being marred by a crack along its width. The Mayor, Peggy Breeden, issued a state of emergency, following reports of broken gas lines resulting in at least five reported house fires. Power was also lost, a major burden seeing as the estimated temperature high that day was 100°F according to the National Weather Service.
For Los Angeles, easily the one location eyes turn to in a California earthquake, the one from Searles Valley felt like the ground was smoothly rolling in a gentle rhythm with no jerks and jumps. This was described by film director Ava DuVernay, who noted that it was the longest duration for any quake that she had felt since staring to live in the city. An L.A.-based smartphone earthquake alert app system found itself in hot water because it did not sound out for users. Disneyland in Anaheim also needed to close its rides temporarily.
The last time California was visited by a quake of magnitude 7 or higher was in 1999, originating also around the Mojave Desert, fortunately remote.
Image from San Francisco Chronicle