Sunday 7 July 2019

Second major Earthquake hits Kern County, California.

The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 7.1 Earthquake at a depth of about 8.0 km, roughly 17 km to the northeast of Ridgeway, in Kern County, California, slightly after 3.50 am local time (slightly after 10.50 am GMT) on Saturday 6 July 2019. There are no reports of any significant damage or injuries relating to this quake, but people have reported feeling it across much of California, and in parts of northern Mexico, as well as in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming Washington, and Montana. This is the second major Earthquake to have hit the area this week, following a Magnitude 6.4 event on Thursday 4 July as well as a number of smaller quakes, and it is likely that more such tremors could follow.

The approximate location of the 6 July 2019 Kern County Earthquake. USGS.

California is extremely prone to Earthquakes due to the presence of the San Andreas Fault, a tectonic plate margin that effectively bisects the state. The west of California, including Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, is located on the Pacific Plate, and is moving to the northwest. The east of California, including Fresno and Bakersfield is on the North American Plate, and is moving to the southeast. The plates do not move smoothly past one-another, but constantly stick together then break apart as the pressure builds up. This has led to a network of smaller faults that criss-cross the state, so that Earthquakes can effectively occur anywhere.

Tectonic boundaries and faults in California and the surrounding area. USGS.

Witness accounts of Earthquakes can help geologists to understand these events and the underlying structures that cause them. If you felt this quake (or if you were in the area but did not, which is also useful information) then you can report it to the United States Geological Survey here.

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