USGS The magnitude 5.3 earthquake near the Channel Islands
A magnitude 5.3 earthquake struck near the Channel Islands on Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The quake was the strongest in Southern California in several years.
The temblor occurred just before 12:30 p.m. and was centered south of Santa Cruz Island. It was felt as far away as Bakersfield, Palmdale and the city of Orange, according to witnesses and the USGS.
Sgt. Eric Buschow, public information officer for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, said the office had received no reports of significant injuries or damage and no large influx of 911 calls since earthquake struck.
The Los Angeles area feels an earthquake of this magnitude on average about once a year, said John Vidale, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center at USC.
There is a 1 in 20 chance that Thursday’s quake will lead to a larger one in the next few weeks, he said. But, more than likely, smaller aftershocks that may not even be felt will follow, he said.
The quake was too small and far away from the coast to trigger any tsunami concerns.
“It would never make a wave that you could see,” he said.
The Los Angeles Police Department said it had not received any reports of injuries or damage.
The quake was initially reported as a magnitude 5.0 and upgraded later to 5.3.
While there were no immediate reports of damage, the quake was felt across a wide area and was a blunt reminder that California is earthquake country.
The last quake to be felt this widely in the L.A. area was a 4.4 quake in Encino in 2014. That quake also shook a wide area and was the largest in the Los Angeles area in four years. That temblor was noted by seismologists as the strongest to hit directly under the Santa Monica Mountains in the 80 years.
The epicenter of Thursday’s quake was south of the Channel Islands. A 4.8 magnitude quake in the same area rattled the region in 2013.
The Santa Barbara area is home to a number of earthquake faults, the largest of which is the Santa Ynez fault, which is 80 miles long and runs just north of the city. That fault is believed to be capable of triggering an earthquake as powerful as magnitude 7.5.
The great Santa Barbara quake of 1925, recorded at a magnitude 6.8, destroyed much of the city’s downtown on State Street, damaged rail lines, caused extensive landslides and was felt as far away as Orange County. It killed 13 people.