Westmorland, just south of the Salton Sea has been hit by a swarm of earthquakes, nearly 600 in a 24 hour period. The largest one was a magnitude 4.9. Renowned seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones says this is normal in the region of the Brawley Seismic Zone.
“The chance of a 5.5 plus at the same location where the swarm is going on is relatively high, there’s a decent chance it’s probably less than 50 / 50 at this point,” says Jones adding this will not trigger a quake on the San Andreas Fault.
She says the largest quake produced in the Brawley Seismic Zone happened in the same area with a swarm, “Back in 1981 there was an earthquake we called the ‘Westmorland Earthquake’ had the same sort of swarm the largest one was 5.8.”
While earthquakes can’t be predicted, you can get an alert before one happens.
Amanda Moyer with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), who is the project manager of Earthquake Warning California says getting a warning before it shakes is as easy as downloading the free app My Shake on your phone, “This new and innovative tool is great to give people just a few minutes notice to take the appropriate action to drop, cover and hold on before an earthquake.”
Our state has the first earthquake warning system in the country, a network of seismic sensors are strategically placed around the state that register movement around the clock. That network will send an alert to the app on your cell phone when there’s a significant earthquake that will affect you you.
“The threshold to receive My Shake alert is a magnitude 4.5 or greater earthquake,” says Moyer.
The further you are from the epicenter the longer advance warning you will get because the wave travels outward sending the signal at the speed of sound.
Moyer says these seconds will not only give you time to get to a safe place, they can prevent industrial and medical catastrophes, “It can give industries seconds to perhaps slow a train down or in a medical field in a medical facility perhaps stop procedures.”
The app is only one in a series of tools launched by Cal OES that will help you be better prepared for the big one.
Dr. Lucy jones says the swarm of quakes should be a good nudge to take action, “So here you’re feeling earthquakes it’s a wonderful time to say ‘Oh right this is part of it,’ and some of them are going to be bigger than this, and there’s a lot of things you can do to be better prepared.”
To lean more about the My Shake app click here: My Shake APP
For earthquake preparedness info click here: Cal OES