Powerful M7.1 earthquake hits Southern California

Powerful M7.1 earthquake hits Southern California

A very strong and shallow earthquake registered by the USGS as M7.1 hit Southern California at 03:19 UTC on July 6, 2019 (20:19 local time, July 5). The agency is reporting a depth of 17 km (10.5 miles). EMSC is reporting M7.1 at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles). This is the second major earthquake to hit this area after M6.4 on July 4

Orange alert was issued for economic losses. Significant damage is likely and the disaster is potentially widespread.

The epicenter was located 17 km (10.6 miles) SSW of Ridgecrest, 18 km (11 miles) E of Searles Valley and 100 km (62 miles) NNW of Lone Pine, California.

30 000 people are estimated to have felt severe shaking, 16 000 very strong, 5 824 000 moderate and 20 937 light.

The USGS issued a green alert for shaking-related fatalities. There is a low likelihood of casualties.

Orange alert was issued for economic losses. Significant damage is likely and the disaster is potentially widespread. Estimated economic losses are less than 1% of GDP of the United States. Past events with this alert level have required a regional or national level response.

Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are resistant to earthquake shaking, though vulnerable structures exist. The predominant vulnerable building types are unreinforced brick masonry and reinforced masonry construction.

Recent earthquakes in this area have caused secondary hazards such as tsunamis, landslides and liquefaction that might have contributed to losses.

The USGS registered 1 804 earthquakes in this area since July 4:

Earthquakes near Ridgecrest from July 4 to 6, 2019. Credit: USGS

Estimated population exposure to earthquake shaking

Selected cities exposed

Regional seismicity



Multiple fires broke out and injuries were reported, Kern County spokeswoman, Megan Person, said.

An emergency operations center was activated and nearly 2 000 people are without fire, she added

"Homes shifted, foundation cracks, retaining walls down," San Bernardino County Fire Department said.

A woman from Bakersfield (136 km / 84 miles SSW of the epicenter) told CNN the shaking lasted for about a minute, far larger than the one on July 4. 

The Los Angeles Fire Department said there were reports of wires down and localized power outages.

CalTech seismologist Lucy Jones said both M7.1 and M6.4 quakes are a part of an ongoing sequence of a 'very energetic system.'

California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a State of Emergency for San Bernardino County today, 2 days after the same was declared for Kern County due to M6.4 earthquake.

The 7.1 quake struck in the same vicinity, causing widespread and significant damage to critical infrastructure, including roads, water lines, and gas lines, resulting in multiple structural fires, the governor stated in the proclamation issued July 5.

USGS aftershock forecast

Within the next 1 week ending 15:00 UTC July 13, 2019:

  • The chance of an earthquake of magnitude 3 or higher is > 99 %, and it is most likely that as few as 240 or as many as 410 such earthquakes may occur in the case that the sequence is re-invigorated by a larger aftershock.

  • The chance of an earthquake of magnitude 5 or higher is 96 %, and it is most likely that as few as 0 or as many as 8 such earthquakes may occur.

  • The chance of an earthquake of magnitude 6 or higher is 27 %, and it is most likely that as few as 0 or as many as 2 such earthquakes may occur.

  • The chance of an earthquake of magnitude 7 or higher is 3 %, such an earthquake is possible but with a low probability.

Featured image credit: USGS

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