After a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit during the July Fourth holiday, California is being rattled by a “swarm” of aftershocks, the largest that the state has experienced in several years.
According to the United States, a 5.4 magnitude aftershock hit the Searles Valley area in the hours of pre-dawn on Friday morning. Geological survey, strong enough to be felt by still shaken communities from the earthquake of the day before.
The aftershock in Los Angeles was felt about 150 miles away, but the fire department of the city said it had received no immediate damage reports.
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— Good Morning America (@GMA) July 5, 2019
USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso told The Washington Post that aftershocks typically follow larger quakes, and tremors linked to the Independence Day earthquake would likely continue for several days. In the wake of Thursday’s main seismic event, dozens of smaller aftershocks have struck, but the USGS predicts only a very slight chance that any of these tremors will match or exceed the strength of the original quake.
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) tweeted on Friday that officials were still monitoring aftershocks. He also approved a Thursday night emergency proclamation, and the state’s emergency services office said it would support the region with fire and rescue resources as it experiences a “swarm of earthquakes.”
I have approved an emergency proclamation for the earthquake in Kern County and aftershocks.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) July 4, 2019
The first big shock hit at 10:33 a.m. near Ridgecrest, Calif. Local time Thursday, ending the long respite of California from large quakes. Authorities reported no serious injuries or deaths, though calls for a handful of fires, cracked roads, and minor injuries were answered by emergency responders across the region.
This is video of of the burned home on S. Sunland St. near California Ave. in #Ridgecrest. The garage, roof, and antique cars inside were completely destroyed, but the owner was NOT home during the #earthquake, according to neighbors. pic.twitter.com/JRoHwkoodC
— Eytan Wallace (@EytanWallace) July 4, 2019
Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden told CNN on Friday that no deaths had been reported, but that assessing the damage throughout the community “will take some time.” She shot down reports that the city had water problems, noting that it was receiving water supply from the nearby city of Indian Wells.
Breeden said she had “heard from the White House” and that the emergency statement from Newsom released funds for emergency services to help her small town.
In the meantime, residents had to deal with power failures and damaged infrastructure, while store owners had to face daunting cleanups after their products had flown off the shelves. Ridgecrest declared an emergency state and the hospital was evacuated as a precaution by officials. The local library requested help from residents to pick up the books strewn about the building.
The Red Cross established evacuation centers in Ridgecrest, a reported local ABC affiliate, and currently housed 16 guests in a shelter area.
Caltrans District 9 Maintenance crews make repairs to cracks along SR 178 near Trona within an hour after 6.4 quake in Ridgecrest #Caltrans8 @Caltrans9 @CA_Trans_Agency @CaltransHQ pic.twitter.com/FpryJoWVos
— Caltrans District 8 (@Caltrans8) July 4, 2019
Christina Sanders of Trona, a small town eight miles from the epicenter, told the Los Angeles Times that the earthquake had left her house looking like “a tornado went through it and ripped it up.” A pipe burst, two feet of water flooded the residence, and items were thrown from the shelves and the refrigerator. Many of her neighbors have lost power.
The quake of July 4 was a “strike-slip,” in which two sides of a failure slide past each other and generate horizontal motion. The shallow quake originated 5.4 miles below the surface, meaning people living above would feel its impact strongly.
Not on the San Andreas Fault, the earthquake was on one of a large system of associated faults.
In recent years, according to the USGS, California has experienced a handful of similar or greater earthquakes, including a magnitude-7.1 quake that hit a remote part of the Mojave Desert near Twentynine Palms in 1999. A 7.2-magnitude earthquake that shook Baja California on Easter Sunday in 2010 was so severe that it was felt all over Southern California and shifted the earth’s crust in Mexico by up to 10 feet.
Had the Searles Valley earthquake struck in a more populous area of the state like Los Angeles or San Francisco on Thursday, it might have caused catastrophic damage and deaths, Caruso of the USGS told The Post.
Mark Benthien of the Southern California Earthquake Center, who has published a seven-step guide for earthquake preparedness, said Thursday’s earthquake should jolt people out of any sense of complacency about earthquakes. Although seismic technology has advanced over the years, and the Shake Alert app can provide a crucial warning to West Coast residents about imminent earthquakes, it is still almost impossible to know when the next big one will strike.
“We can at any time have bigger earthquakes just below Los Angeles,” he told The Post. “We need to be prepared and we need to know what to do.”