Monday, March 11, 2013

4.6 Mag Quake Strikes Southern California

What a morning! I was sitting at my job out in La Jolla, CA when we felt a slight rumble. Sure enough, USGS was reporting a 5.2 magnitude quake had struck near Anza, CA. The quake was later downgraded to a 4.7, with many, many aftershocks. Now, some local geologists are speculating that this could be a 'foreshock' event, where some moderately sized quakes precede a bigger one.

As much as I like speculation, I highly doubt this is what will occur. First of all, this was not part of the San Andreas fault line, and is part of a very minor fault system. Second, despite many aftershocks, the activity has quieted down quite a bit, leading me to believe that this probably was the main event. The news media really just loves earthquake stories, and will search long and hard to find a scientist that would say "this could be the big one". If I were a betting man, I'd bet against a larger quake in this area.

Covering earthquakes in California below a 5.5 magnitude is probably pointless unless we're talking about quakes near a volcano. the buildings out here are tough enough to survive a magnitude 8.0 tremblor, and that's the law out here. You cannot build buildings unless they are certified quake-safe. Out infrastructure is uniquely adapted to be able to shift. Our Skyscrapers, rather than being rigid, are built to bend and sway (probably a bit disconcerting in the moment, but a lot safer!). Our freeways are built to shift a bit as the quakes move, and diffuse kinetic energy.

My point is, unless the quake is quite large, you probably wont hear of more damage than say, some china falling off a mantle, or a window breaking. And it has been this way for a while.

In any case, the quakes out here in California are pretty normal. The area around Anza, Borrego, and LA county is always experiencing some smallish quakes, I'm certain this quake was just another blip on the radar and nothing to worry about. We all have fun with quakes out here, and have a pretty good chuckle at all the Facebooking and Tweeting from the East coast with stuff like "Praying for you all in CA", or "OMG I hope my friends in CA are OK, so scary!" and so on...

We're fine out here. Send us those thoughts if we ever get a 8.0 or above!

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