Moderate 5.4 earthquake rattles California
So far there are no reports of casualties or major damage.
Thu, Jul 08, 2010 at 07:03 AM
SHAKY GROUND: Although the quake centered on a sparsely populated area of southern California, it was felt in San Diego and Los Angeles. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
A moderate 5.4 earthquake shook southern California on Wednesday, swaying highrise buildings in Los Angeles and San Diego and rattling nerves but causing only minimal damage.
The quake struck at 2353 GMT, with its epicenter 13 miles northwest of Borrego Springs and 94 kilometers northeast of San Diego, at a depth of 11.7 kilometers, USGS said.
Although the quake centered on a sparsely populated area of southern California, it rolled across a region that is home to more than 20 million people.
There were no reports of casualties or major damage, although local news reported incidents of food falling off shelves in some stores near the epicenter and a rock slide near the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.
"The earthquake was felt all over southern California, with strong shaking near the epicenter," USGS said on its website.
The shaker struck just as people headed home from their jobs and it was felt for about 30 seconds in San Diego, Los Angeles and across southern California.
It was felt in many highrises as well, but structural damage was minimal thanks in part to the state's rigid building codes.
Authorities in Los Angeles, 245 kilometers away from the quake's epicenter, said the city's international airport was operating normally.
The USGS lists earthquakes as "strong" from 6.0 magnitude upwards.
Wednesday's quake was followed by a series of 3.0-magnitude aftershocks in the Borrego Springs area.
"I can hardly talk because I'm still shaking," Celina Vega of Borrego Springs told the Los Angeles Times, adding that glasses fell off shelves at her home.
"It shook up and down really hard. That was the big jolt, then back and forth," Mary Jane Laws, a manager at the Center Market grocery store in Borrego Springs, told the daily.
"I've been here 30 years, and it was bigger than any of us have experienced."
USGS said the temblor was set in motion by a strong 7.2 earthquake on April 4 which increased the geological pressure along the San Jacinto fault, the most active faultline in California.
"We've been calling those 'triggered earthquakes,'" Kate Hutton, a seismologist at the California Institute of Technology, told the Times, referring to the dozens of quakes that have rattled the aftershock zone near the Mexican border.
"We've been able to see an increase in activity" following the 7.2 quake, Hutton said.
Copyright 2010 AFP American Edition