(USGS map)

Magnitude 6.4 Earthquake Hits Mojave Desert

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake — that was preceded a half-hour beforehand by a 4.0 quake — struck a remote area of Southern California at 10:33 a.m. local time today, the largest temblor in SoCal since the 1999 7.1 magnitude Hector Mine earthquake.

Dozens of aftershocks, several over magnitude 4.0, rattled the region afterward; scores were without power as temperatures were expected to peak over 100 degrees today near the epicenter.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the 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 main industry there is Searles Valley Minerals Inc., with products including boric acid and borax.

Geologists had not yet pinpointed the responsible fault, but said it was not on the San Andreas.

The San Bernardino County Fire Department reported minor to moderate structural damage in the area with some cracks in roadways, broken water mains, power lines downed and rockslides. No major injuries that required transportation to hospitals were reported. Ridgecrest Regional Hospital was evacuated and several structure fires were being battled, said Kern County Fire. California’s Operations Center and Regional Emergency Operations Center was activated.

According to the USGS intensity map, people reported feeling light shaking as far away as Las Vegas, San Diego and Fresno.

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 senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She 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 and SiriusXM.

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