Southern California earthquake related to April’s Baja quake, no damage or injuries

By Raquel Maria Dillon, AP
Thursday, July 8, 2010

Magnitude-5.4 quake strikes SoCal desert

LOS ANGELES — The earthquake that rattled through Southern California with only minor damage and no injuries came as no surprise to seismologists.

The 5.4-magnitude earthquake centered 28 miles south of Palm Springs was related to the powerful Easter Day temblor near the U.S-Mexico border, but was not an aftershock, researchers said.

California Institute of Technology Seismologist Kate Hutton said the 7.2-magnitude quake in April transferred stress to fault zones farther north, triggering the quake that was felt from San Diego to Los Angeles to Las Vegas on Wednesday afternoon.

Preliminary information indicates the quake was on the San Jacinto fault, the most seismically active fault in California and one of two that exhibited signs of increased pressure following the Mexico quake, according to a recent airborne analysis by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The upshot is that the Easter quake appeared to have decreased the stress on the southernmost San Andreas Fault — slightly lowering the chance of a quake on the mother of California faults.

“You can’t predict earthquakes, but our statistics said there would be an increased chance of this happening,” said California Instituted of Technology seismic analyst Anthony Guarino.

The moderate earthquake rattled buildings 130 miles away in downtown Los Angeles, toppled wine bottles at desert resorts and send people scurrying under desks and tables across the Coachella Valley.

There were no reports of injuries or major damage.

The quake struck at about 4:53 p.m., was centered 28 miles south of Palm Springs and was followed by dozens of aftershocks, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Laura Anderson, a manager at The Palms at Indian Head Hotel, said she ran outside when the shaking started and was surprised to learn the temblor’s magnitude wasn’t higher.

“It was enough to knock over some wine bottles and some pictures fell off the wall,” Anderson said.

Police Lt. John Booth said there were no reports of serious damage or injuries in Palm Springs, a desert city of about 43,000, but the phone rang off the hook and many residents were shaken up by the largest quake they could remember.

will not be displayed