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Earthquake Weather? No Need to Worry, Experts Say

A major quake appears unlikely, but Southern Californians can expect multiple small aftershocks in coming days and weeks.

Although they jangled nerves and rattled windows, the two 4.5-magnitude earthquakes that shook Southern California and probably aren't signs of a pending Big One, experts said.

“There is nothing in this sequence, at this point, that tells us we need to be particularly worried,” said Elizabeth Cochran, a geophycist at the U.S. Geological Survey.

The two quakes belonged to a series of about 30 temblors that rattled the region in less than 24 hours.

The quakes could be a doublet, two main shocks accompanied by a series of aftershocks, she said. Or they could be part of a swarm, meaning another 4.0-ish quake could happen. But the chances of another large shaker are only about 2 percent, she added.

Nevertheless, that doesn't mean the rumbling is entirely over.

Southern Californians are in for a series of aftershocks in the days and weeks to come, Cochran said: “We can definitely expect more of these small earthquakes in the magnitude range of 1 or 2."

Researchers can offer fairly specific predictions for the next several days based upon earthquake patterns.

“In the next 24 hours, we can expect around eight earthquakes of a 2.0 magnitude in the region,” said Debi Kilb, a seismologist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “We would expect the largest aftershock to be a 3.5.”

Although it’s natural for people to worry about the "big one" when a series of medium quakes strike, it’s actually very rare that a major earthquake will follow.

Typically, only about 5 percent of earthquake sequences start small and go larger, said Kilb.

Meanwhile, scientists are working to determine which fault is responsible for the latest quakes. For now, they suspect the Whittier fault zone, a particularly active fault that was responsible for a 4.8-magnitude quake back in 2002.

Alberto Barrera August 08, 2012 at 10:16 PM
I'm definitely bracing for those magnitude one quakes, they would be a disaster for my game of Jenga.
Paige Austin August 08, 2012 at 11:04 PM
No one ever talks about the tragic toll of quakes on Jenga.
Charles August 08, 2012 at 11:56 PM
I asked my pastor if there was anything to be concerned about with these earthquakes. Surprisingly, he told me there is and I need to pray three times as long tonight as normal. That's enough for me. No Olympics tonight, no power walking. I am going to be praying for hours tonight so no more earthquakes occur.
Kathi August 09, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Do you ask your mythical pastor about everything? btw, if I want to pray I don't need to close my eyes or anything so I can pray while walking or driving or whatever. In fact walking can be a great time to pray. When I feel an earthquake that seems to really shake a little (more than these little ones--didn't even feel the 1 the 1st day) I will usually pray for whoever may be located near the epicenter since usually at 1st we may not know how close we are & thus how much worse it might have been elsewhere.

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