SoCal encounters more than just Fireworks over the 4th of July holiday

Los Angeles residents experienced a different kind of excitement over the holiday weekend. The region was hit by two large earthquakes with epicenters about 180 miles from the San Andreas fault and about 150 miles from Downtown Los Angeles in the Searles Valley near Ridgecrest, CA.

The first quake struck Thursday morning at 10:33 AM with a magnitude of 6.4. This turned out to be a foreshock to a bigger 7.1 magnitude quake shook the region on Friday at 8:19 PM, according to the USGS. Both quakes were felt across much of Southern California, parts of Arizona and Nevada, as far north as the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, and as far south as Baja California, Mexico

Since then, there has been a series of aftershocks, including five measuring 5 to 5.4 on the Richter magnitude scale. At least one magnitude 3 aftershock rattled the area on Monday morning, according to the USGS.

Although the quakes were felt in parts of 4 states, damage was mostly contained to the Ridgecrest region and there were no fatalities. In contrast, the 6.7 magnitude Northridge shaker in 1994 killed more than 50 people and caused in excess of $40 billion in damage. Like Northridge, the two Ridgecrest quakes occurred on a previously unknown faults.

Both substantial earthquakes not only damaged roads and kindled fires, but also left a rupture in the Earth so large it could be seen from space. Before and after photos were taken by a satellite on July 4 and 6. They show a rupture in the Earth’s crust close to the epicenter of Friday’s 7.1 magnitude quake.

July 4th

July 6th

Had these earthquakes occurred on a different unknown fault say within 100 miles of Downtown Los Angeles or the Bay Area, damage might have been catastrophic.

Last year, a simulation was run by Berkley, called the HayWired Scenario. This scenario was run to give a striking, realistic depiction of a large Bay Area quake in today’s world, taking into account the wireless and interconnected Bay Area. The result calculated approximately 8 hundred possible deaths and more than 18 thousand injuries. It also predicted about 450 large fires near the epicenter and eighty-three billion in property and business losses.

The main reason why the scenario was run, was to help the public know what to expect when an event like this happens as well as encourage them to prepare for the inevitable large quake. In light of the recent seismic events, researchers at the USGS (United States Geological Survey) wanted to reiterate the prediction they made after the Haywired simulation. They believe an earthquake of a magnitude of 6.7 or higher will strike the San Francisco Bay area along the San Andreas fault zone before 2030.

If you operate a data center, hospital or laboratory and you aren’t prepared, contact us. WorkSafe Technologies is the global leader in seismic protection for critical systems.

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