What Happened During Last Week’s California Earthquake?

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On Sunday, August 21, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit the city of Ojai in Ventura County, California. The earthquake was felt in surrounding areas including Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. Fortunately, there were no reports of injuries or significant damage. This earthquake was one of the many that have occurred in California this year, so read below for everything that happened last week, as well as some statistics about earthquakes this year.

How bad was the earthquake?

Earthquakes are measured on a scale called the moment magnitude scale MMS, which is based on the previously used Richter scale. With a magnitude of just over 5, last week’s earthquake created seismic energy roughly equivalent to the detonation of 475 tons of dynamite.

Earthquakes below a magnitude of 5.5 or so are often felt but usually don’t cause significant damage, and there were no reports of major property damage from the quake last week. Thankfully there have also been no reports of injuries or fatalities caused by the earthquake or any of the tremors that came after it.

Before and after the earthquake

Notably, last week’s earthquake hit California right before the state was hit by Hurricane Hilary, which had thankfully weakened to a tropical storm classification by that point. The earthquake was a completely separate event from Hilary, and officials were actually made aware of the potential threat of Hilary before that of the earthquake.

According to USGS, there have been several aftershocks greater than magnitude 3.0 following the original earthquake. Six distinct earthquakes between magnitudes 2.8 to 3.9 struck Ojai between the time of the initial quake and the end of the next day.

Other major quakes this year

The most dangerous earthquakes that happened this year were by far the pair of 7.8 and 7.5 magnitude quakes that hit Turkey and Syria on February 6. All in all these quakes caused close to $120 billion USD in property damages in the two countries and killed a confirmed total of over 59,000 people.

So far, the largest major earthquake in the U.S. this year was the magnitude 5.4 quake that struck southeast of Rio Dell, California on January 1. This was actually an aftershock of the magnitude 6.4 quake in Ferndale, California on December 20. The second earthquake caused power outages, broken windows, and even houses being shaken from their foundations.

How does the government respond to earthquakes?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a comprehensive disaster management system in place to respond to natural disasters such as earthquakes. The system includes four phases: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

The mitigation phase involves identifying potential hazards and taking steps to reduce their impact. The preparedness phase involves developing plans and procedures for responding to disasters. The response phase involves taking immediate action to save lives and prevent further damage. Finally, the recovery phase involves restoring normalcy after a disaster has occurred.