A 5.1 magnitude earthquake in the Los Angeles area shook Southern California on Friday night and resulted in more than 100 aftershocks on Saturday. The Los Angeles earthquake, centered four miles north of Fullerton in Orange County, forced evacuations and caused damage in the area. The earthquake was felt throughout Southern California from Ventura County to the San Diego region. According to scientists, it may be a sign of future activity to come.
While much attention has been given to the destructive potential of earthquake activity along the San Andreas fault, according to the Los Angeles Times, scientists now believe that activity along the Puente Hills thrust fault on which Friday’s earthquake is thought to have occurred, may pose an even greater threat. The Puente Hills fault runs from northern Orange County to downtown Los Angeles. The fault is thought to have been responsible for other recent earthquakes in the area as well as this week’s Los Angeles earthquake.
According to scientists, a massive quake along the Puente Hills fault could be even more destructive than a quake along the San Andreas fault due to the older buildings in the area, some of which are not built to withstand earthquakes, it could potentially lift heavy objects in the air, and could be amplified by the region’s soft soils, which could produce a “Jello effect” with the violent shaking, reported the Los Angeles Times. A massive quake on the Puente Hills, the same newspaper reported, could result in 3,000 to 18,000 deaths with 750,000 households left homeless whereas a massive quake along the San Andreas fault could cost as many as 1,800 deaths. The San Andreas fault is located more than 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles on the other side of the San Gabriel mountains. Scientists also speculate that a massive earthquake along California’s Northern Coast could destroy coastal towns and results in as many as 10,000 deaths, the Los Angeles Times reported.
According to the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC), there is a 99.7% chance that California will have an earthquake of 6.7 or greater in the next 30 years and a 46% chance of a 7.5 magnitude or greater earthquake within the next 30 years. In Southern California, there is a greater chance of experiencing one of these quakes within the next 30 years than in Northern California.
The Los Angeles area has a long history of earthquake activity—the earliest recorded Los Angeles earthquake was in 1769. Friday’s earthquake is the strongest earthquake to occur in the region since the 1994 Northridge earthquake, a 6.7 magnitude temblor that killed 57 people and injured over 5,000.
The Earthquake Country Alliance provides earthquake safety tips to Southern California residents and urges them to identify and fix potential household hazards in the event of an earthquake and to prepare disaster supply kits. According to the website, residents should keep one kit at home, one in their car, and one at work in places where they can be reached easily and quickly should disaster strike. They should also make a point to update these kits with fresh supplies as needed. In light of Friday’s Los Angeles earthquake, KTLA 5 also provided tips for viewers on earthquake safety.
By Amber Workman
Earthquake Country Alliance
Los Angeles Times: “Earthquake May Have Hit on Dangerous Fault that Worries Scientists”
Los Angeles Times: “A Potent Threat of Major Earthquake Off California’s Northern Coast”
Southern California Earthquake Center