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4.8 quake rattles Salton Sea area

No damage is reported, but seismologists are watching the area closely because a large jolt on the San Andreas fault could set off a major earthquake.

March 25, 2009|Ruben Vives

Another moderate earthquake struck Tuesday near the San Andreas fault in Imperial County, seismologists said.

The magnitude 4.8 quake hit at 4:55 a.m. two miles south of Bombay Beach on the eastern shore of the Salton Sea, according to the U.S. Geological Survey website.

The quake occurred at a depth of 3.5 miles.

"The only interesting thing about this one is that it occurred at the end of the San Andreas fault," said Kate Hutton, a seismologist at Caltech. "Bombay Beach is considered the southern end of the San Andreas fault. The last swarm of earthquakes similar to this was in 2001. We're watching it closely. We'll be analyzing everything."

There have been at least 23 aftershocks, the largest a 3.1, which struck at 6:52 a.m. in the same area, Hutton said. No damage was reported in the thinly populated area.

Over the weekend, the Salton Sea was struck by 42 smaller quakes during a 48-hour period beginning Saturday morning and tapering off early Monday.

Scientist have been keeping a close watch on the region because they believe an earthquake there could set off fault movements leading to a major earthquake that would devastate Los Angeles.

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ruben.vives@latimes.com

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