Two Earthquakes in Two Days: Southern California Rocked by a Larger, Second Earthquake

The earthquake was felt as far as Mexico and Las Vegas.
Donovan Alexander

Following Thursday's 6.4 earthquake, Southern California was rocked by another earthquake Friday night. Initially, the United States Geological Survey reported it as a 7.1 magnitude earthquake with an updated magnitude of 6.9, only to have it to return to 7.1. At this magnitude, the earthquake clocks in five times bigger than Thursday's tremor. 

The earthquake triggered multiple fires throughout the Ridgecrest region. Even more so there has been reported damage and injuries across the region. According to official reports, there are more than 2,000 people currently without power. Homes are being reported as "shifted" with cracks to their foundation as well as damaged walls. 

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In a report to CNN, "CalTech seismologist Lucy Jones said Friday both earthquakes are part of an ongoing sequence, of a "very energetic system." The initial 6.4 earthquake was a foreshock while the 7.1 earthquake was the mainshock. 


The earthquake is said to have last much longer than Thursday's earthquake, with some clocking it in at a minute, with the tremors felt as far as Las Vegas and Mexico. There are no major gas leaks but there are reports of wires down and localized power outages.

Why California?

Besides its beaches, great culinary scene, and movie stars, California is unique because of something else. Since it began keeping records in 1812, there have been 70 major earthquakes in California. Even more so, the state has fallen victim to countless tremors and other small tectonic events. Why is that? California is prone to earthquakes because it lies on the San Andreas Fault. 

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The San Andreas Fault extends roughly 800 miles through the US state. For the uninitiated, faults are areas where two tectonic plates come together. The fault in California forms the tectonic boundary between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate. 

Earthquakes tend to happen when rock underground suddenly breaks along a fault. Seismic waves make the ground shake during this sudden release of energy. With a major fault line there in California, it is no wonder why California is so prone to earthquakes with some researchers predicting "bigger earthquakes to come" in the near future.    

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