M 7.1 earthquake in Southern California

 In Event News

A M 7.1 earthquake occurred at 8:20pm local time on July 5, near Ridgecrest, in Southern California. This event follows the M 6.4 earthquake that occurred on Thursday in the same region. There have been many aftershocks, and more are expected.

The USGS report indicates that extensive damage is probable, and a state of emergency has been declared in Ridgecrest and San Bernardino County. The town of Trona, already impacted by Thursday’s event, sustained substantial damage and local roads have been cut-off due to rockslides.

M 7.1 Tectonic Summary – USGS

The July 6th, 2019, 03:19 UTC (July 5th 20:19 locally) Mw 7.1 earthquake in eastern California, southwest of Searles Valley, occurred as the result of shallow strike slip faulting in the crust of the North America plate. Focal mechanism solutions for the earthquake indicate rupture occurred on a steeply dipping fault as the result of either right lateral slip on a plane striking NW-SE, or as left lateral slip on a plane striking SW-NE. At the location of this earthquake, approximately 150 km northeast of San Andreas Fault – the major plate boundary in the region – the Pacific plate moves to the northwest with respect to the North America plate at a rate of approximately 48 mm/yr. The location of the earthquake falls within the Eastern California shear zone, a region of distributed faulting associated with motion across the Pacific:North America plate boundary, and an area of high seismic hazard. More detailed studies will be required to precisely identify the causative fault associated with this event, though seismic activity over the past 2 days has been occurring on two conjugate fault structures in the Airport Lake Fault Zone.

This earthquake occurs approximately 34 hours after and 11 km northwest of a M 6.4 event in the same region, on July 4th, 2019, at 17:33 UTC. The July 4th event was preceded by a short series of small foreshocks (including a M4.0 earthquake 30 minutes prior), and was followed by a robust sequence of aftershocks, including almost 250 M 2.5+ earthquakes (up until the M 7.1 event). Those events aligned with both nodal planes (NE-SW and NW-SE) of the focal mechanism solution of the M 6.4 event, which was very similar in faulting style to today’s M 7.1 earthquake. The sequence includes two other M5+ earthquakes, one of which occurred 20 seconds before the M 7.1 event. The M 7.1 earthquake occurred at the NW extension of the prior sequence.

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