A 6.4-magnitude earthquake shook Southern California this morning, in the largest temblor to hit the region in 25 years.
The earthquake struck at 10:33 a.m. Pacific time near Ridgecrest in Kern County on July 4, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). It was felt more than 100 miles away in Los Angeles and San San Bernardino ahead of Independence Day celebrations.
No injuries were immediately reported, but the San Bernardino County Fire Department tweeted that buildings, roads, water mains and power lines have been damaged in Trona, a remote community located about 10 miles northeast of Ridgecrest. The total extent of the damage was not immediately known.
The earthquake was centered in the Mojave Desert in Searles Valley, about 11 miles northeast of Ridgecrest. At least four aftershocks were recorded in the same area, measuring 4.7, 3.5, 3.8 and 4.2 in magnitude.
The epicenter is within the sprawling Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division at China Lake, where a desert test range is located. A few ports, including Los Angeles and Las Vegas, as well as several oil refineries lie within the strike zone, as seen on the FreightWaves SONAR Critical Events map, below. So far, no social media reports of damage at ports have been posted. The USGS recorded the magnitude of the tremor in Los Angeles as less than 4.5, according to a Tweet from the City of Los Angeles.
Thursday’s earthquake was the largest to hit Southern California in nearly 25 years. In 1994, a 6.6 quake in Northridge devastated the region in 1994, killing dozens of people and causing billions of dollars in damage. As far as magnitude, it was the strongest since the Hector Mine earthquake registered a 7.1 hit a remote part of the Mojave Desert in October of 1999.
Caltech seismologist Lucy Jones, California’s foremost earthquake expert, told the Los Angeles Times today that aftershocks will continue to rumble through Kern County, and there is a small chance that the quake was a “foreshock” of an even greater temblor to come.
“This is an area that normally has lots and lots of earthquakes,” Jones said. She said there’s about a 5% chance that the area hit by today’s earthquake will have a bigger earthquake in the next few days. She also says some aftershocks will probably exceed magnitude 5, which means they’ll probably be damaging.