California was hit with a major 7.1 earthquake Friday night, the second massive quake in just 24 hours.
According to USGS, the center of the quake was 17 kilometers (11 miles) north north-east of Ridgecrest, California.
Friday’s quake caused multiple injuries, fires and rockslides, and left thousands of people without power. According to scientists, the fault causing the quakes appears to be growing.
“There’s a 5% chance that this could be followed by an even larger quake,” USGS seismologist Robert Graves said at a news conference immediately following the earthquake.
According to seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones, “there is no reason to think” there could not be yet another earthquake yet to come in California.
“Like any quake, today’s M7.1 has a 1 in 20 of being followed by something even bigger. Smaller quakes – M5s are likely and a M6 is quite possible,” Dr. Jones tweeted.
Latimes.com reports: The 7.1 quake that struck at about 8:20 p.m. Friday night was about 10 times larger than the on Thursday morning, Caltech seismologist Lucy Jones said.
The Friday quake occurred on the same fault system as the 6.4 temblor. It was farther away from Los Angeles, though still in the Owens Valley.
“This happened at the end of the zone that moved previously,” Jones said, adding that the fault is now likely to be 25 to 30 miles long.
“The fault is growing,” she said.
Given its size, it’s likely to be followed by more shaking that will be felt in Los Angeles.
“The largest aftershock, on average, to a 7.1 would be a magnitude 6,” Jones said. That means that if another quake on the order of Thursday’s 6.4 temblor “would not be surprising to anybody.”
Or it could be even bigger.
“There’s a 5% chance that this could be followed by an even larger quake,” said USGS seismologist Robert Graves, also speaking at a news conference Friday.
Jones said she could not recall a pattern of earthquakes in California where a 6.4 foreshock was followed by a 7.1 event, only to be followed by an even bigger quake.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen, she cautioned.
“It is clearly a very energetic sequences, so there’s no reason to think we can’t have more large earthquakes,” she said.
Thursday’s 6.4 foreshock triggered shaking in Ridgecrest of intensity 8. With Friday’s 7.1 main shock, the shaking intensity reached a 9, Jones said.
“My expectation is that Ridgecrest is having a pretty difficult time tonight,” said Lucy Jones.
Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted on Friday night, “In response to another large earthquake in Southern California tonight, I have activated the @Cal_OES state operation center to its highest level, and the state is coordinating mutual aid to local first responders.”
Kern County Fire Chief David Witt said his department has responded to multiple structural fires, but there have been no reported fatalities. He said there have been a lot of ambulance calls. An evaluation of Isabella Lake Dam shows that it is OK, Witt said, but they will continue to investigate tomorrow. His department has requested assistance from L.A. city and county fire departments and the Orange County Fire Department.
The plan now is to do a systematic search in the Ridgecrest area. Helicopters are also assisting.
In Ridgecrest, Jeremiah Jones laughed when a Times reporter asked what the latest earthquake felt like.
“You mean, what didn’t I feel?” he said. “It was bad. Man. It hasn’t stopped yet.”
Jones was minutes away from his home with friends when the earthquake struck. His friends cried and panicked. TVs and cabinets were damaged.
Jones knew his daughters were out of town, giving him a sense of relief, but he returned to his apartment to assess his own damage. He had prepared for this, putting expensive or dangerous items like TVs and things hung on the walls on the floor.
But even with the precautions, his apartment was torn apart.
“All the expensive stuff was secure, but everything off the cabinets and fridge and drawers, closets — everything was thrown everywhere,” he said. “I have a lot to do right now.”
The shaking put nerves on edge at Dodger Stadium, where Becky Carbone, an interior decorator from Norwell, Mass., was watching a game with her husband and two sons, ages 9 and 12, during a visit to the city.
“This one we felt while sitting up high at the Dodgers game,” said Carbone, 43. “The kids were intrigued and basically knew what was happening. I think as Bostonians, we don’t scare easily. And the fact that everyone around us was so calm definitely helped them see that it was OK.”
At the Skirball Cultural Center, dozens of people were eating the last of their chicken and fish at a wedding rehearsal dinner when the tables started shaking.
“People started yelling ‘earthquake’ and ‘do you feel that?’ ” Joanna Korshak, 29, said. “We were outside and we could feel it, which is crazy. And I could see all the windows shaking on the museum.”
“After it was over, everyone started clapping,” Korshak said. Someone could be heard yelling “Welcome to L.A.” amid the post-earthquake applause. The celebrations quickly resumed, with the father of the groom getting up to make a speech.
When the earlier temblor hit Thursday, scientists had warned that it could lead to an even larger quake. Ridgecrest has been rattled by more than 17 magnitude 4 quakes and at least 1,200 aftershocks since Thursday. A magnitude 5.4 aftershock occurred earlier Friday morning — strong enough to awaken Los Angeles residents about 125 miles away.
“This is an earthquake sequence,” Jones said. “It will be ongoing. It is clearly a very energetic sequences, so there’s no reason to think we can’t have more large earthquakes.”
Friday’s quake was larger in magnitude than the destructive 1994 Northridge quake, which measured 6.7 magnitude. But that temblor occurred in an urban area, while this week’s huge quakes occurred 100 miles from L.A.
A 7.1 quake in 1999 hit the Hector Mines area of the Mojave Desert. Because of its distance from Los Angeles, it did not cause major damage or injuries.
The July Fourth earthquake had ruptured along a length of fault 10 miles long, from a remote point northeast of Ridgecrest, Calif., a city of 29,000 people, and continued southwest almost all the way to the city limits, scientists said.
The aftershocks will probably “go on for months, if not years,” Caltech seismologist Egill Hauksson said earlier Friday.
The odds, he told The Times, were decent that there could be another aftershock of magnitude 5 or greater at some point.