The farming community of El Centro in Imperial County experienced a rude awakening at midnight: the force of a 4.8 magnitude earthquake and a long series of aftershocks.
The earthquake occurred about 12:36 a.m. Tuesday, 2 miles northwest of El Centro, in an area just off the Salton Sea with active faults, said Elizabeth Cochran, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
The earthquake was followed by an aftershock of magnitude 4.5. In the 12 hours that followed, more than 180 smaller aftershocks were recorded.
As if the shaking wasn’t enough, some residents were awakened by the alarm their phone received from the ShakeAlert app, who initially thought the shaking was stronger than it turned out to be. “Pretty terrible to be woken up at midnight with a sound alert telling you to take (cover) (in multiple languages) for something we didn’t even feel,” @MattInformed said on X.com (formerly known as Twitter).
This type of seismic tumult is, however, not rare in this region.
“In this particular area where the (Earth’s) crust itself is warmer than average, we get these fairly active sequences where we see many, many aftershocks,” Cochran said. When a sequence of earthquakes occurs, she said, most aftershocks are at least one magnitude unit smaller than the first tremor.
Residents near the epicenter reportedly felt moderate shaking that “can be quite frightening for people nearby,” Cochran said.
However, this level of shaking should cause little or no damage. No damage or injuries were reported in the hours following the start of the earthquake.
During the last sequence of earthquakes in the region, in 2021, the main shock was a magnitude 5 quake, Cochran said.
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