California earthquake experts have indicated that there is a 10 percent chance of another magnitude 7.0 or higher quake hitting the same area in the southern part of the state that was already hit with two intense quakes.
Following Friday’s event, Caltech seismologist Lucy Jones warned there is a 10 percent chance of another magnitude 7.0 or higher quake in the next week.
‘The fault is growing,’ Jones explained to the Los Angeles Times, adding that it is now 25 to 30 miles long.
Over the next week, Southern California has only a 27 percent chance of experiencing a third earthquake greater than magnitude 6, but a 96 percent chance of going through a tremor of magnitude 5 or higher.
Those precise probabilities were generated by scientists at the United States Geological Survey (USGS), using models based on longstanding principles of seismic behavior and decades of data on aftershocks from earthquakes.
But the same predictive power does not extend to forecasting when and where earthquakes will strike in the first place, experts acknowledge.
‘Even if it’s a theoretical possibility, it may be a practical impossibility,’ said Andrew Michael, a California-based geophysicist at the USGS.
The USGS mapped out approximately 600 quakes that hit the area just hours north of Los Angeles on Saturday. Most registered between the 2 and 3.5 magnitude range, but there were plenty that got as high as 4.5.
With the possibility of aftershocks and temperatures forecast to reach 100 degrees (38 Celsius) over the next several days, officials were taking precautions.
The California National Guard was sending 200 troops, logistical support and aircraft, Maj. Gen. David Baldwin said. The Pentagon had been notified, and the entire California Military Department was put on alert, he said.
Lucy Jones, a seismologist at the California Institute of Technology and a former science adviser at the U.S. Geological Survey, said the new quake probably ruptured along about 25 miles (40 kilometers) of fault line and was part of a continuing sequence.
The seismic activity is unlikely to affect fault lines outside of the area, Jones said, noting that the gigantic San Andreas Fault is far away.
Egill Hauksson, another Caltech seismologist, said later in the day that scientists believe the continuing sequence could produce more than 30,000 quakes of magnitude 1 or greater over six months.
He said the probability of a magnitude 7 over the next week is about three percent, but one or two magnitude 6 quakes are expected.
Looting has been reported in Ridgecrest following the worst of the two massive earthquakes that shook Southern California on Thursday and Friday.
Ridgecrest, which sits about 10 miles from the epicenters of both tremors, is just beginning to survey the extent of the damage from the quakes that cracked buildings, ignited fires and left thousands without power.
Mayor Peggy Breeden told KTLA that ‘bad people’ have been adding to the difficult situation by stealing from businesses where merchandise was rattled off the shelves and scattered all over the floor.
The first earthquake measuring at magnitude 6.4 shook the city on Thursday morning. It was determined to be a foreshock to an even larger 7.1 temblor that came 32 hours later on Friday night.
And the earth under Southern California has not stopped rumbling ever since the first shake on Thursday, with more than 1,400 aftershocks recorded shortly afterwards, scientists say.
There has been an average of one aftershock every minute since Friday’s quake in the southern part of the state, according to the United States Geological Survey website. Geophysicist John Bellini said that more than 4,700 quakes have been recorded since Thursday.
During a press conference Saturday morning, Kern County Fire Chief David Witt said there are no known fatalities from the earthquake but admitted that little is known about the destruction at this point.
‘We do feel like there is damage, but we don’t know the extent of it yet,’ Witt told reporters. ‘Nobody was trapped, no major collapses that we know of, but we are out there searching.’
He said damage evaluation is just picking up speed because ‘it’s hard to gather intel in darkness’.
Firefighters were seen battling flames at a mobile home park in Ridgecrest overnight after an electrical fire broke out.
Shockwaves from Friday’s quake were felt in Las Vegas and downtown Los Angeles as a rolling motion that seemed to last at least a half-minute.
Dr Lucy Jones, a seismologist for the California Institute of Technology (CalTech), said it was the most powerful to hit Southern California since another 7.1 temblor in the same area in 1999.
Jones also warned there is about a one-in-10 chance that another 7.0 quake could hit within the next week, and the the chance of a 5.0-magnitude quake ‘is approaching certainty’.
There have already been more than 1,700 aftershocks recorded since Thursday’s quake, which is being considered a ‘foreshock’ to Friday’s ‘mainshock’.
Compared to the first shock, the second was 11 times stronger, five times bigger and lasted longer.
The strength of the earthquake is the most important measure, referring to the amount of energy released and thus the amount of damage. Friday’s quake released 11 times the amount of energy of Thursday’s, while it measured five times larger on the seismograph.
‘It is really the energy or strength that knocks down buildings,’ according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).
Aftershocks from the mainshock could occur for years, Jones said. Seismologists have predicted that there is an 11 percent chance of a magnitude 7 or greater temblor hitting Southern California in the next week, with an eight to nine percent chance that it will be higher than Friday’s.
WATCH: @CBSLA anchors seek shelter under desk during live broadcast when 6.9 magnitude Southern California earthquake strikes pic.twitter.com/hB7wyWulQD
The quake struck at 8.19pm and was centered 11 miles from Ridgecrest in the same areas where the previous quake hit.
The quake was felt as far north as Sacramento, as far east as Las Vegas and as far south as Mexico.
The area in and around Ridgecrest, already trying to recover from the previous temblor, took the brunt of damage. Some 3,000 people were left without power and there were reports of cracked buildings.
‘There are significant reports of structure fires, mostly as a result of gas leaks or gas line breaks throughout the city’ and daybreak Saturday could show even more serious damage, said Mark Ghilarducci, director of California Office of Emergency Services.
Local fire and police officials said they were initially swamped by calls for medical and ambulance service. But there was ‘nothing but minor injuries such as cuts and bruises, by the grace of God,’ Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin said.
Two building fires – one involving a mobile home – were quickly doused, and there were several reports of natural gas leaks, but the lines were shut off, McLaughlin said.
For the second time in as many days, Ridgecrest Regional Hospital wheeled patients out of the building, some still hooked to IVs, CNN reported.
Several residents removed their mattresses from their homes and slept outside on Friday night because they felt it was safer than being inside.
‘When you lose all ability and sense of — sort of your own control of your surroundings, it is scary,’ CNN’s Sara Sidner said after interviewing Ridgecrest residents.
‘When the Earth is literally moving underneath you and things are falling off the walls and you don’t know how much longer it’s going to go on, it feels like eternity as one of these earthquakes roll through.’
Nearby, the tiny town of Trona, with about 2,000 residents, was reported to have at least one collapsed building. Roads were buckled or blocked, and police put out a call for bottled water for residents.
State Route 178 in Kern County was closed by a rockslide and had severe cracking. Fire officials reported ‘multiple injuries and multiple fires’ without providing details.
San Bernardino County firefighters reported cracked buildings and a minor injury.
‘Homes shifted, foundation cracks, retaining walls down,’ the department said on Twitter.
‘One injury (minor) with firefighters treating patient. No unmet needs currently.’
In downtown Los Angeles, 150 miles away, offices in skyscrapers rolled and rocked for at least 30 seconds.
The Los Angeles commuter rail service Metrolink said on Twitter it has stopped service in the city of 4 million people for the time being.
Andrew Lippman, who lives in suburban South Pasadena, was sitting outside and reading the paper when Friday’s quake hit and calculated it lasted 45 seconds.
‘I could see power lines swaying,’ he said.
Disneyland in Orange County and Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita closed their rides.
Juan Fernandez and Sara Donchey, two news anchors for the local CBS affiliate in Los Angeles, were seen live on the air seeking shelter as the quake struck on Friday.
‘We are experiencing quite a bit of shaking if you bear with us a moment,’ Donchey said.
‘We’re making sure nothing is going to come down in the studio here.’
A visibly terrified Donchey then grabs Fernandez’s arm.
‘This is a very strong earthquake,’ she said.
‘8:21 here and we’re experiencing very strong shaking. I think we need to get under the desk Juan.’
Donchey then got under the desk and the station cut to a commercial break.
The tremor in Vegas forced the NBA to cancel its nationally televised Summer League game between the New York Knicks and the New Orleans Pelicans.
Television footage from the game at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas shows the players and coaches walking off the court after tremors were felt throughout the arena.
Images also show the scoreboard and speakers attached to the roof wobbling back and forth as the aftershocks take effect.
The arena was filled to capacity as basketball fans eagerly anticipated the debut of No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson of the Pelicans.
Williamson and his team were squaring off against another prized Duke product, RJ Barrett, who was picked No. 3 overall by the New York Knicks.
Aftershocks here at Vegas Summer League. Scoreboard and speakers swaying just a bit. pic.twitter.com/HRaddGs6MH
We had an earthquake in LA today and our crew reacted, well, as any one of us would if we were in the middle of an earthquake. pic.twitter.com/dSzTJ4hIeh
The NBA announced that it postponed the rest of Friday’s scheduled Summer League games in Las Vegas because of the earthquake.
The earthquake also rattled Dodger Stadium in the fourth inning of the team’s game against the San Diego Padres.
The quake on Friday night happened when Dodgers second baseman Enriquè Hernàndez was batting.
It didn’t appear to affect him or Padres pitcher Eric Lauer.
However, it was obvious to viewers of the SportsNet LA broadcast when the TV picture bounced up and down.
There was no announcement by the stadium’s public address announcer.
Some fans in the upper deck appeared to leave their seats and move to a concourse at the top of the stadium.
The press box lurched for about 20 seconds.
Another local posted video on social media showing the earthquake strike as he was dining at a restaurant in Coachella Valley on Friday.
A resident of Los Angeles posted a video on Twitter showing the earthquake’s impact on the swimming pool in her backyard, but social media users were more interested in the fact that her terrified dog was locked out of the house in the middle of the tremors.
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Friday that he was activating the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to its highest level.
‘In response to another large earthquake in Southern California tonight, I have activated the [OES] state operation center to its highest level,’ the governor tweeted on Friday.
‘The state is coordinating mutual aid to local first responders.’
Communities in the Mojave Desert tallied damage and made emergency repairs to cracked roads and broken pipes earlier on Friday as aftershocks from Thursday’s earthquake in Southern California kept rumbling.
The town of Ridgecrest, close to the epicenter, assessed damage after several fires and multiple injuries that were blamed on the magnitude 6.4 quake on Thursday.
A shelter drew 28 people overnight but not all of them slept inside amid the shaking.
‘Some people slept outside in tents because they were so nervous,’ said Marium Mohiuddin of the American Red Cross.
Damage appeared limited to desert areas, although the quake was felt widely, including in the Los Angeles region 150 miles away.
The largest aftershock thus far – magnitude 5.4 – was also felt in LA before dawn Friday.
The odds of a quake of similar size happening in the next few days continued to dwindle and was only 6 percent on Friday, seismologists said.
There had been about 1,700 aftershocks since the Thursday quake, which was a bit higher than average, said Zachary Ross of the California Institute of Technology.
From my mom @mom2five1 in Ridgecrest California @ABC7 pic.twitter.com/iZSxoJsSXU
‘An event of this size is going to keep producing aftershocks for years but the rates are going to decay with time,’ Ross said.
The quake involved two perpendicular faults in the area but it was unlikely to affect any fault lines away from the immediate area, seismologists said.
Damage in the town of Ridgecrest was relatively light because the city is relatively young, with growth coming in the 1940s and later so many buildings met upgraded building codes, said Susan Hough of USGS.
Ridgecrest Regional Hospital remained closed as state inspectors assessed it, spokeswoman Jayde Glenn said. The hospital’s own review found no structural damage, but there were cracks in walls, broken water pipes and water damage.
The hospital was prepared to help women in labor and to give triage care to emergency patients.
Fifteen patients were evacuated to other hospitals after the quake, Glenn said.
The quake did not appear to have caused major damage to roads and bridges in the area, but it did open three cracks across a short stretch of State Route 178 near the tiny town of Trona, said California Department of Transportation district spokeswoman Christine Knadler.
Those cracks were temporarily sealed, but engineers were investigating whether the two-lane highway was damaged beneath the cracks, Knadler said. Bridges in the area were also being checked.
The Ridgecrest library was closed as volunteers and staff picked up hundreds of books that fell off shelves.
The building’s cinderblock walls also had some cracks, said Charissa Wagner, library branch supervisor.
Wagner was at her home in the small city of 29,000 people when a small foreshock hit, followed by the large one, putting her and her 11-year-old daughter on edge.
‘The little one was like, ‘Oh what just happened.’ The big one came later and that was scarier,’ she said.
The earthquake knocked over a boulder that sat atop one of the rock spires at Trona Pinnacles outside of Ridgecrest, a collection of towering rock formations that has been featured in commercials and films, said Martha Maciel, a Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman in California.
Meanwhile, the nation’s second-largest city revealed plans to lower slightly the threshold for public alerts from its earthquake early warning app.
But officials said the change was in the works before the quake, which gave scientists at the California Institute of Technology’s seismology lab 48 seconds of warning but did not trigger a public notification.
‘Our goal is to alert people who might experience potentially damaging shaking, not just feel the shaking,’ said Robert de Groot, a spokesman for USGS’ ShakeAlert system, which is being developed for California, Oregon and Washington.
The West Coast ShakeAlert system has provided non-public earthquake notifications on a daily basis to many test users, including emergency agencies, industries, transportation systems and schools.
Late last year, the city of Los Angeles released a mobile app intended to provide ShakeAlert warnings for users within Los Angeles County.
The trigger threshold for LA’s app required a magnitude 5 or greater and an estimate of level 4 on the separate Modified Mercali Intensity scale, the level at which there is potentially damaging shaking. Although Thursday’s quake was well above magnitude 5, the expected shaking for the Los Angeles area was level 3, de Groot said.
A revision of the magnitude threshold down to 4.5 was already underway, but the shaking intensity level would remain at 4. The rationale is to avoid numerous ShakeAlerts for small earthquakes that do not affect people.
‘If people get saturated with these messages, it’s going to make people not care as much,’ he said.
Construction of a network of seismic-monitoring stations for the West Coast is just over half complete, with most coverage in Southern California, San Francisco Bay Area and the Seattle-Tacoma area.
Eventually, the system will send out alerts over the same system used for Amber Alerts to defined areas that are expected to be affected by a quake, de Groot said.
California is partnering with the federal government to build the statewide earthquake warning system, with the goal of turning it on by June 2021.
The state has already spent at least $25million building it, including installing hundreds of seismic stations throughout the state.
This year, Democratic Gov Gavin Newsom said the state needed $16.3million to finish the project, which included money for stations to monitor seismic activity, plus nearly $7million for ‘outreach and education.’
The state Legislature approved the funding last month, and Newsom signed it into law.