A powerful magnitude 4.6 earthquake struck the Los Angeles area on Friday afternoon, rattling nerves and homes across Southern California. The quake’s epicenter was located approximately 7 miles northwest of the coastal city of Malibu, near the Santa Monica Mountains, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
The temblor hit at 1:47 pm local time and was felt across a wide swath of the LA metro area. While the quake itself was considered moderate, its shaking could be felt by as many as 12 million people across the region, according to Allen Husker, a geophysics researcher at Caltech.
Despite the earthquake’s strength, authorities say it is unlikely to have caused major damage. An earthquake of this magnitude is only going to cause minor damage,” said Fred Fielding, spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Fire Department, in an interview with NBC Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Fire Department confirmed there were no reports of significant damage or injuries.
However, the quake serves as an important reminder for Californians to be prepared, said seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones, founder of the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society. Jones’ top recommendation is for all households to have emergency supplies of drinking water stored, as a major quake could easily disrupt water service.
The USGS recorded at least two smaller aftershocks following the initial 4.6 quake, measuring 2.7 and 3.0 in magnitude. Aftershocks are common following significant seismic events and may continue intermittently for days or weeks.
Friday’s quake struck at a shallow depth of about 6 miles underground. The epicenter was located near the Malibu Coast Fault, one of numerous fault lines running through the seismically active Los Angeles Basin. The shaking activated ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system, which sent alerts to cellphones through the MyShake app, allowing some residents precious seconds to take cover.
The temblor struck as Los Angeles continues to recover from a series of powerful winter storms that pummeled California last week. The storms brought heavy rain, flooding, mudslides, and damaging winds, toppling trees and powerlines. Thousands were left without power due to the intense weather.
While unrelated to the storms, the shaking serves as one more blow to a region already reeling from the impact of torrential rains. However, seismologists say the rain likely had little impact on the earthquake.
The quake struck on the anniversary of the deadly 1971 Sylmar earthquake in Los Angeles, a 6.6 magnitude temblor which killed 64 people and caused over $500 million in damage. By comparison, Friday’s event was far less severe, causing only minimal disruption.
Still, experts advise area residents to check homes for damage and look out for neighbors in need, especially vulnerable seniors. The LAFD is asking residents to check gas lines, power connections, and look for shifting or cracks in foundations or structures. Any damage should be photographically documented.
If locals feel any additional shaking, they are advised to drop, cover, and hold on until the movement subsides. Those who experience a quake should expect to feel aftershocks for some time.
Authorities reassure the public that while earthquakes can be frightening, the region is well-prepared through strict building codes and safety procedures. With proper readiness and a cool head, Californians can ride out even strong seismic events.
Friday’s earthquake serves as a reminder that Southern California is earthquake country. Locals are encouraged to make preparations by securing furniture, storing emergency supplies, and learning proper safety protocols. Staying informed and remaining vigilant is the best defense against seismic events.