- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 24, 2009

BOMBAY BEACH, CALIF. (AP) - A moderate earthquake struck Tuesday on the edge of the Salton Sea in Southern California’s Imperial County, but there were no reports of injuries or damage.

The magnitude-4.8 quake struck at 4:55 a.m. at a depth of about 3.5 miles, said seismologist Amy Vaughn of the U.S. Geological Survey. It was centered two miles south of the small town of Bombay Beach on the eastern shore of the Salton Sea, about 90 miles east of San Diego.

The main quake was followed by dozens of aftershocks.

Salton Sea Beach resident Roberta Henderson told the The Desert Sun of Palm Springs that she was awake in bed when the quake hit.

“Lots of noise, some shaking, could hear all the wind chimes in the neighborhood ringing, then slow rolling, seemed to last longer than the actual quake,” she said.

It was the largest in a swarm of earthquakes that have rattled the Salton Sea area since the weekend. More than 40 small quakes have been detected, most under magnitude-3.

Scientists are keeping close watch on the increased earthquake activity because it is near a section of the San Andreas Fault that has not popped loose in more than 300 years.

The latest quake appears to have occurred in what’s known as the Brawley seismic zone _ a “whole mess of faults” stretching between the Imperial and San Andreas faults, said seismologist Kate Hutton of the California Institute of Technology.

A committee of earthquake experts met by teleconference Tuesday and determined the moderate quake ruptured on a small fault perpendicular to the San Andreas below the Salton Sea.

There was a 1 percent to 5 percent chance of a San Andreas quake over the next several days, but the probability decreases rapidly with time, according to the California Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council.

“Nothing about this earthquake is unusual except that it’s very close to the San Andreas Fault,” said USGS seismologist Lucy Jones, who is on the council.

A rupture on the southern San Andreas could set off the “Big One” that would devastate a large swath of Southern California. Last year, scientists estimated that a magnitude-7.8 earthquake on the southern San Andreas could cause 1,800 deaths and $200 billion in damages.


On the Net:

USGS: https://www.usgs.gov

Caltech quake simulator: https://tinyurl.com/c7k9w6

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide