Earthquake Los Angeles: Swarm of Quakes Hit Southern California
A swarm of small, mostly harmless earthquakes has rocked the Los Angeles area over the past few days, making residents weary that they are a precursor to a larger, more destructive quake. However, though the tremors are unusual, experts said there is little to worry about.
The earthquakes began on Saturday and have been centered around the town of Brawly. Researchers have been following the seismic activity to see whether they will hit the Imperial Fault, approximately 3 miles away.
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"We don't have any reason to believe that the (earthquake) storm is going to trigger on the Imperial Fault, but there's a minute possibility that it could," Jeanne Hardebeck, research seismologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, told Reuters.
In 1940, a magnitude 7 quake hit the imperial fault, causing widespread damage.
The small cluster of quakes is different from traditional earthquakes, which are caused by two plates slipping past each other. Instead, these clusters are caused by hot fluid moving around Earth's crust. When that kind of quake measures 5.5 or above, there is a 5 percent chance that a strong earthquake follows. However, researchers were quick to mention that the figure may not be completely correct.
"We understand them even less than we understand normal earthquakes," Hardebeck said.
The area experienced hundreds of earthquakes since Saturday, with the strongest measured as a magnitude 5.5, scaring residents.
"It's pretty bad. We had to evacuate the hotel just for safety," Rowena Rapoza, office manager of a local Best Western Hotel, told Reuters.
Earlier this month, two magnitude 4.5 earthquakes hit the town of Yorba Linda 10 hours apart. Yorba Linda is 145 miles away from Brawly.
Earthquake clusters have been known to last as long as two weeks. Before this, the last cluster to hit the area occurred in 1981.
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