Quakes Don’t Necessarily Portend Big One

“LOS ANGELES – After four significant earthquakes in less than a week, Californians are getting jittery, with some stocking up on water, food, cash and even insurance. But seismologists say clusters of quakes are not unheard of and do not necessarily mean the Big One is coming.

After several years of relative seismic calm, the recent quakes are a not-so-gentle reminder that the ground here is never as solid as it seems.

The shaking began Sunday morning with a magnitude-5.2 temblor in the Anza area of Riverside County, about 90 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. That was followed by a magnitude-7.2 quake Tuesday night under the Pacific Ocean off Eureka — an unrelated incident that prompted a tsunami warning.

Thursday brought two quakes that were 10 hours and about 700 miles apart: one of magnitude 4.9 in San Bernardino County and another late that night of magnitude 6.6, also centered off the Northern California coast.

As groups of quakes often do, this week’s shaking brought murmurs of the “Big One” — the kind of quake that moves mountains and levels entire cities.

“I think we’re on our way to the ‘Big One,'” said Jacki Breger, 61, executive director of a Los Angeles charter school who plans to overhaul the school’s emergency plans by this fall. “It makes me really nervous with so much quake activity.”

Marian Garcia, 24, isn’t taking any chances. She stuffed two backpacks with sweaters, shoes and canned food, and her 4-year-old daughter now sleeps with her instead of in the little girl’s own bedroom.

“In case we have to get out there, I want to be close to her,” said Garcia, who works at a downtown Los Angeles flower stand.

Some studies have suggested that the San Andreas fault, which leveled much of San Francisco in 1906 and extends more than 800 miles through California, may be about to release pent-up energy.

But that’s not a consensus opinion — earthquakes just aren’t that predictable, and a few jolts don’t necessarily mean a huge quake is imminent.

“We don’t know whether the ‘Big One’ is coming,” said Tom Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center.

The last major rupture on the southern portion of the fault happened in 1857, when an estimated 7.9-magnitude quake struck. It severely damaged Fort Tejon, but there was minimal damage statewide because California was sparsely populated at the time and had no high-rise buildings.

The flurry of quakes typically leads homeowners to buy earthquake insurance, which only about 14 percent of homeowners currently have.”

I purchased earthquake insurance as soon as I purchased my home. Better safe than sorry. I just don’t worry about earthquakes, they happen when they happen and I can’t do a thing to stop them, but I can be prepared for them. And that is something that I make a point of doing.

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  1. Jack's Shack June 19, 2005 at 12:15 am

    A quake is a quake is a quake. I know that sounds cavalier, but it is just not worth getting worked up over because you cannot predict when it will happen or what the size will be. I do appreciate the good wishes.


    You know what the Bard says about lawyers.

  2. Z June 19, 2005 at 12:15 am

    That’s e flood insurance around here or mine subsidence insurance. Mother Nature is indiscriminate…at least you can have insurance, right?

  3. Workman Chronicles June 18, 2005 at 11:39 pm

    The worst part about earthquakes is that you have nobody to blame…no weatherman, no government entity, no foreign power…not even your mom or dad.

    I’ll bet lawyers REALLY hate earthquakes, since there’s nobody to sue (although they always manage to find somebody…a builder, an inspector, somebody).

    *Morris Workman

  4. ifyouwillit June 18, 2005 at 9:40 pm

    The seismec tremmors we felt in Manchester UK a few summers back were very unsettling, the UK isn’t prone to earthquakes at all. I imagine feeling the solid ground beneath you move, and knowing you live close to a fault, would be something to cause concern.

    I hope that the tremours have passed and there will be no need for you to cash in your insurance.

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