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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

July 4 Tremor Was Just a Foreshock: 7.1 Quake Hits Navy’s China Lake Base

California Gov. Gavin Newsom activated the state’s Office of Emergency Services operations center to its highest level after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck along the same fault line as the Fourth of July Mojave Desert 6.4 quake.

“The state is coordinating mutual aid to local first responders,” Newsom tweeted.

The quake struck at 8:19 p.m. local time on Friday night within the grounds of the Naval Air Warfare Center China Lake, which had closed after Thursday’s quake to assess damage. Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles was rattled during a game against the visiting Padres, but players didn’t seem to notice and kept playing through the temblor.

Thursday’s quake was centered a little over 7 miles southwest of Searles Valley, a census-designated area in the Mojave Desert situated between Death Valley National Park and the southern end of the Sierras. The Southern California Seismic Network said there was a 99 percent chance that the quake occurred on a line not mapped on the Community Fault Model, and a 1 percent chance it was associated with the Little Lake fault zone.

As hundreds of aftershocks struck the area, seismologists had warned another large tremor could be coming. Seismologist Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey and Caltech had predicted a 1 in 20 chance of an even larger quake following the Fourth of July shaker.

“So the M6.4 was a foreshock. This was a M7.1 on the same fault as has been producing the Searles Valley sequence,” Jones tweeted. “This is the same sequence. You know we say we 1 in 20 chance that an earthquake will be followed by something bigger? This is that 1 in 20 time.”

“Like any quake, today’s M7.1 has a 1 in 20 of being followed by something even bigger. Smaller quakes – M5s are likely and a M6 is quite possible,” she added.

Jones told reporters that the quake zone was too far away from the San Andreas fault to likely trigger anything there.

But the guilty fault zone will keep shaking for a while, she noted. “We have never seen a sequence like this suddenly stop… it’s far from unprecedented,” she said. The chance of an aftershock over magnitude 6.0 within the coming week is about 50 percent.

Kern County officials said they knew of no fatalities at this time but had received multiple ambulance calls. More than 1,300 people were known to be without power in the Ridgecrest area and multiple fires had been sparked by gas leaks.

According to the USGS intensity map, people reported feeling light shaking as far north as Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, as far south as Ensenada, and as far southeast as Phoenix.

Magnitude 6.4 Earthquake Hits Mojave Desert

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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