5.8 magnitude earthquake shakes California’s Owens Valley

A 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the eastern Sierra California region near Lone Pine on Wednesday morning.

The quake struck the remote area of ​​US 395 at 10:40 am, below the bed of Lake Owens, just east of Mount Whitney. There were no immediate reports of significant injury or damage.

The epicenter occurred about 12 miles southeast of the city of Lone Pine in the Owens Valley of Inyo County.

According to the US Geological Survey. In the US, Lone Pine, with a population of approximately 1,800, experienced “very strong” tremors, as defined by the modified Mercalli Intensity Scale.

In this category of jolt intensity, the damage is negligible in well-designed and built buildings, but it can cause slight and moderate damage to ordinary well-built structures and considerable damage to poorly built or poorly designed structures and can break chimneys.

The USGS said there is a 4% chance that one or more aftershocks will be greater than the 5.8 magnitude earthquake Wednesday morning next week.

Weak or light shaking, which does not cause structural damage, was felt as far away as Fresno, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento.

Wednesday’s earthquake was the most powerful to hit California since the 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the Ridgecrest area on July 5, located approximately 50 miles to the southeast.

“I was just searching the computer and all of a sudden, without precursors, violent shaking for two seconds, then it softened into deep shaking,” said Jaylen Wright, the receptionist at the Best Western hotel on Main Street in Lone Pine. “It was super violent at first, almost from top to bottom, then it went from side to side.”

Wright said he felt the Ridgecrest earthquakes last summer, but that this earthquake was “more violent” than anyone he has ever experienced.

The hotel has seen no loss of power or significant damage, he said. A couple of items in the administrative office fell to the ground, and Wright said he had heard from friends that they had also had items that fell to the ground.

“Oh my gosh. It was a sharp, violent jolt followed by a couple of aftershocks,” said Jenifer Casteneda, a Lone Pine real estate broker. “Things fell off the wall. I ran out of my office because it is in an old two-story wooden building, and I was afraid it would fall on me. ”

The earthquake was part of a series of tremors in the Owens Valley that started Monday night with a 4.6 magnitude earthquake. There are a number of flaws in the region, including the Sierra Nevada fault system, and authorities are still trying to determine exactly which flaws played a role in Wednesday’s shake, said Jen Andrews, a Caltech seismologist.

Given the location of the earthquake just north of Ridgecrest, Andrews says that it is possible that “last year’s earthquake activity loaded these faults further north and there may be some tectonic connection.”

“We have the possibility to continue seeing great earthquakes in the area,” he said. “We anticipate seeing aftershocks that are likely to last weeks or months.”

There could be up to 100 magnitude 3 earthquakes in the region. However, a larger earthquake is less likely. There is a probability of 300 in a break of magnitude 7 in the area.

The location of Wednesday’s earthquake was close to where the largest Owens Valley earthquake occurred in 1872. That earthquake, which was recorded at a magnitude of 7.8 or 7.9, was one of the largest in California’s modern record.

Felt as far away as Los Angeles and Sacramento, that earthquake killed 27 people and destroyed 52 of the 59 houses that were there at the time.

Times staff writers Louis Sahagun and Rong-Gong Lin II contributed to this report.