Monday, May 18, 2009
California Southland residents were relieved today that a magnitude 4.7 earthquake that struck near Los Angeles International Airport was not "the big one.'' The quake struck shortly before 8:40 p.m. Sunday, a mile east of Lennox, a mile south southeast of Inglewood and 10 miles south southwest of the Los Angeles Civic Center, according to Caltech.
Some minor damage was reported, but no injuries, according to police and fire officials.
The rumbling lasted 10 to 15 seconds and was felt throughout the Greater Los Angeles area and as far away as San Diego and Riverside counties.
Caltech described the shaker as "light,'' but it was the strongest quake to strike the Southland since the magnitude 5.5 earthquake that hit Chino Hills last July 29.
At 8:45 p.m., a magnitude 3.1 aftershock occurred in the same aera, according to Caltech, which also recorded several smaller "microquakes.''
No fires, structural damage or injuries due to the earthquake were reported in El Segundo, Inglewood, the city of Los Angeles or Los Angeles County, fire and police department officials from various agencies said.
The Los Angeles Fire Department briefly went on "earthquake emergency mode,'' and fire engines at stations in the quake area were initially taken out of their garages as a precaution but were later returned.
In El Segundo, burglar alarms were triggered and the Chevron refinery had a "burnoff,'' when excess refinery gases were burned, said Sgt. Mike Gill of the El Segundo Police Department. Burnoffs are standard procedure after an earthquake, Gill said.
At the South Bay Galleria, some ceiling tiles fell inside a movie theater, but no injuries were reported.
In Long Beach, the windows of Blue Ribbon Drapery, at 638 E. South Street, were broken.
"It's a little strange, but I expected it was going to happen sometime,'' store owner John Sousa told ABC7. ``We live here in the L.A. area, it's going to happen. And it was pretty strong, I've lived here my whole life and it's the strongest earthquake I've ever felt.''
Officials at Los Angeles International Airport, which was near the
epicenter, released a statement saying, "Operations are normal and there are no flight delays following preliminary inspections of terminals, the airfield, Sepulveda Tunnel and other areas of the LAX Central Terminal Area.''
A similar statement was issued by officials at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana in Orange County.Long Beach Airport had only minor damage, while residents throughout the Southland reported items falling off walls and shelves.
U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Susan Hough told the Los Angeles Times the temblor was "a bit deep," starting 8.4 miles below the surface.
"That tends to make it less sharp -- less of a jerky, abrupt motion," she said.
As a result, most people felt a rolling motion, although those closer to the epicenter may have felt a jolt.
Seismologist Lucy Jones of the Geological Survey told The Times the quake apparently occurred on the Newport-Inglewood fault.
That fault has spawned several damaging shakers, including the magnitude 6.3 Long Beach earthquake in 1933.
But the fault is not believed to be able to set off a major earthquake, she said. She described Sunday's shaker as "a real garden-variety California earthquake."