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5.7 earthquake largest to hit California since 2008

May 24, 2013|By Rosanna Xia

The magnitude 5.7 earthquake that struck Northern California on Thursday was the largest on-land temblor in California since 2008, officials said.

The last quake similar to this magnitude was a magnitude 5.5 that struck Southern California in July 2008, said David Schwartz, an earthquake geologist for the Northern California USGS division in Menlo Park. The Chino Hills temblor caused little damage, but it was the most sizable quake to hit a metropolitan part of California since the much larger and destructive 1994 Northridge quake.

“A 5.7 is still a moderate size earthquake,” Schwartz said, “but it’s large enough to generate interest and provide us some real info on how things work. We plan to keep looking at the sequence.”

Thursday’s quake struck about 8:47 p.m. about 150 miles northeast of Sacramento; its epicenter was about 27 miles southwest of the town of Susanville and seven miles west northwest of Greenville.

Within minutes of the first quake, more than 7,000 people reported feeling it, from across state borders into Oregon and Nevada and as far south as the San Francisco area, according to the USGS website. 

There have been no reports of injures, Plumas County Sheriff’s officials said. About 600 residents lost power for a brief period, and a water tank was ruptured due to the earthquake, affecting up to 1,500 customers.

At least three homes in the area had moderate damage -- collapsed chimneys and plaster cracking, authorities said. No structural damages have been reported.

More than four dozen aftershocks, ranging up to a magnitude 4.9 in a zone of about four miles by five miles, have been recorded since the first quake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Schwartz said these aftershocks look to be “fairly standard.” Within the next week, there is a 20% chance an earthquake larger than magnitude 5 will strike the area and  a 5% to 10% chance a quake of a magnitude greater than 5.7, according to a USGS probability report released Friday morning.

“I think the bottom line is, these small aftershocks will continue for the next week or so,” Schwartz said. “There’s always a possibility that an earthquake of this size is followed by something larger.”

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Twitter: @RosannaXia

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