Many Southern Californians were shaken awake by a magnitude 4.4 earthquake early Tuesday morning that was felt around the greater Los Angeles area.
After the devastating earthquakes that occurred in Haiti and Chile in the past month, many Southern California residents are questioning whether yesterday’s earthquake is a precursor to a larger earthquake.
“There is always that possibility in California that any earthquake can be a foreshock for something larger,” said Professor David Bowman, associate professor and chair of the department of geological sciences. “It’s been long enough since the earthquake so the odds have decreased exponentially.”
The earthquake hit at 4:04 a.m., with the epicenter located about 11.7 miles below Pico Rivera. It was felt as far south as San Diego county and west along the coast through Malibu and Ventura county.
“It looks like it was a thrust fault, so it was probably that same line that caused the Whittier earthquake back in 1987,” said Jeffrey Knott, professor of geological sciences. “It could be in the same aftershock sequence, but since it’s 23 years later, Iâ€™m pretty sure it’s not related to Whittier.”
The fault is believed to be associated with the Puente Hills line, according to the U.S. Geological Survey Web site.
“It is unquestionably true California has the potential for a large earthquake,” Bowman said. “We have several faults, like the San Andreas fault, and it’s been a long time since theyâ€™ve had a big earthquake. From that perspective we are defintely overdue.”
Although, California is considered to be one of the most prepared places in the world for a large earthquake, it would still be beneficial to retrofit older structures and bridges, said Bowman.
“I didn’t think it was anything major because I was too far away to really feel the jolt,” said Steven Hoang, a biochemistry major. “I have emergency supplies at home, but school-wise, I don’t really know if there is any protocol we are supposed to follow.”
There are steps that residents of Southern California should take to prepare themselves for the inevitable “big one,” such as storing an earthquake kit, snacks, water, medication and even a spare set of shoes in your car, and there should be enough to survive three to seven days after, Bowman said.
“We participate in the ShakeOut drills every October, but I think 100 percent of the people are not prepared,” Knott said.
The Great California ShakeOut is an annual earthquake drill that allows organizations across California to practice and prepare for the actual event. There were more than 6.9 million participants in 2009 and the next one is scheduled for Oct. 21 at 10:21 a.m.
“Earthquakes happen all the time in California,” Bowman said. “But these small earthquakes are a wake-up call for Californians to remember that we live in earthquake country and we do need to be more prepared.”