On July 4, the southern California town of Ridgecrest (about 150 miles North-east of Los Angeles) was struck by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake.
Occurring about 11 miles Northeast of the town in the Mojave Desert, the quake was confirmed not likely to have involved the infamous San Andreas fault line– though several others were involved.
But that’s not the end of the story. Late Friday, the same region experienced its biggest quake in 20 years– a magnitude of 7.1. Residents are now bracing for more, with a massive 5.5 magnitude aftershock occurring mid-Saturday.
And CalTech seismologist, Egill Hauksson, reported a 27% chance of a magnitude 6.0 to follow.
Thankfully, there have been no reported casualties as of yet. However, the twin quakes have caused considerable damage– and not just a little panic.
Jeff Edelstein, the owner of the Van Nuys (more than 100 miles to the North-east of the quake zone) SOS Survival Store, sold out of earthquake survival kits by Monday afternoon.
Customers looking to purchase even the most basic survival kit had to be added to a 2-week waiting list. According to Edelstein, the purchasing panic started shortly after the first quake on Independence Day.
“It’s been 20 years since we had this large of an earthquake,” he said. “A lot of people are panic buying, which tends to happen after earthquakes. They’re seeing it on the news, they’re seeing it everywhere. They’re afraid something is going to happen.”
The Fabled Big One
But what exactly is everyone afraid will happen?
Ava DuVernay, a filmmaker, tweeted: “Been living in Los Angeles all my life. That was the longest earthquake I’ve ever experienced. Not jerky. Smooth and rolling. But it was loooong. It was so long I thought for the first time ever ‘Is this the big one?’ Damn. Respect Mother Nature. She’s the boss.”
The fabled “Big One” is an expected earthquake of even greater magnitude, along the San Andreas fault line, which seismologists say is long overdue.
“If the daily probability of the Big One was 50/50, then the chance it would happen next week would be greater than 99 percent,” says USGS seismologist Lucy Jones. “Real probability is about 2 percent per year, or 1/20,000 each day.”
Thankfully, those odds also mean these twin quakes were certainly not the Big One. Add to that the fact that, as mentioned earlier, they did not involve the San Andreas fault line at all, and you might expect everyone to be giving a huge sigh of relief.
Bracing for Impact
That would be premature, however.
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In another tweet, Dr. Jones also stated the twin quakes were part of the Searles Valley sequence: “So the M6.4 was a foreshock. This was an M7.1 on the same fault as has been producing the Searles Valley sequence. This is part of the same sequence.”
“We estimate that there’s a 1 in 10 chance that Searles Valley will see another M7. There’s a 9 in 10 chance that tonight’s M7.1 was the largest.”
“This is the same sequence,” Dr. Jones wrote in yet another related tweet. “You know we say we (sic) 1 in 20 chance that an earthquake will be followed by something bigger? This is that 1 in 20 times.”
While these twin quakes do not appear to be directly related to the Big One, it’s not to say they shouldn’t be taken as a forewarning.
With the Independence Day quake being described as a magnitude 6.4 foreshock to the biggest earthquake California has seen since the magnitude 7.1 quake of October 1999, one can only wonder how close the Big One really is. And that’s exactly what’s on the minds of residents at this very moment.
“Like any quake, today’s M7.1 has a 1 in 20 chance of being followed by something even bigger,” Dr. Jones tweeted. “Smaller quakes – M5s are likely and M6 is quite possible.”
Living With the Aftermath
As mentioned earlier, no casualties were reported by the authorities.
However, some residents reported significant structural damages to their homes.
Others testified to being traumatized by the experience (the second of the quakes was one of only 13 in over 60 years to measure higher than 7.0 magnitude). Many elected to sleep at shelters or camp outside.
Ridgecrest officials have since managed to contain all reported gas leaks and fires. Power was also restored after more than 13,000 residents found themselves without electricity in the aftermath of the twin quakes.
Kern County officials also reported there was no major structural damage. All of the state bridges in the area were properly inspected and deemed safe for continued use.
We at the Family Protection Association want all of our readers to be well-informed about the possibilities of threats to your safety and the safety of your family. We encourage readers to visit our partner site, Survival Life, for tips on how to prepare for and survive an earthquake.