Powerful quake shakes California

2014-03-10 16:48
Plot of typical eartquake. (Picture: Supplied)

Plot of typical eartquake. (Picture: Supplied)

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Eureka - A very strong earthquake rattled the Northern California coast and was widely felt across the region, but authorities said early on Monday that there were no reports of any injuries or damages.

The magnitude 6.9 quake struck at 22:18 local time on Sunday and was centred 80km west of Eureka and about 6km beneath the Pacific seabed, according to the US Geological Survey. It was followed by about a half-dozen aftershocks, including one of magnitude 4.6.

The quake was felt widely across the region but both fire and sheriff's officials in Humboldt County, which includes most of the populated areas near the epicentre, said early on Monday more than four hours after the quake hit that they had no reports of any damage or injuries.

"We had some alarms go off and other than that we dodged a bullet," Humboldt County Sheriff's Steve Knight told The Times-Standard of Eureka.

The National Tsunami Warning Centre said there was no tsunami danger for the region.

But more than 3 000 people, including some in Oregon, reported on the USGS website that they felt the quake. Some reported a long, rolling shake that woke children or knocked items off shelves.

"This lasted longer than any earthquake I've ever felt," Raquel Maytorena, 52, who lives about a mile from the coast in Ferndale near Eureka, told The Los Angeles Times. "It just kept going and going, very slowly and softly. It was not violent. It almost felt like you were in a boat that was rocking."

Maytorena said she felt a little rattling in her nearly 100-year-old home, but power remained on without any interruptions. The quake felt like it lasted about 20 seconds, she said.

"The animals, they felt it," she said. "My two horses were running around out by the barn, and my dogs, six dogs, were ready to get out of the house."

Jana Pursley, a geophysicist with the National Earthquake Information Centre, said that based on the area's tectonics and past tremors, damages or casualties were unlikely.

Earthquakes are very common in Eureka, a city of about 27 000 people about 435km northwest of San Francisco and 160km south of the Oregon state line. Nearby Arcata is home to about 17 000 people and Humboldt State University.

The area experienced a magnitude-7.2 earthquake in 1992 that left 95 people injured and caused millions of dollars in damage, according to the USGS. The earthquake was felt as far south as San Francisco.

It was followed by a magnitude-6.5 earthquake about 12 hours later and a magnitude-6.7 earthquake a few hours after that, both of which caused additional damage.

The area had a magnitude-5.6 earthquake in February, 2012 that did not cause serious damages or injuries.

An offshore magnitude-6.5 quake struck offshore in 2010 and caused bumps and cuts among residents and broke glass in some buildings, but it was about 35km closer to land than Sunday night's quake.

Read more on:    usgs  |  us  |  earthquakes

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