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Earthquakes Shake California

Photo Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California experienced the two largest earthquakes that have hit the region in decades.

In a time of the year where fireworks should be the only thing shaking our spirits, California was hit with a 6.4 magnitude quake on July 4th. This was followed up a day and a half later with a 7.1 magnitude earthquake.

The earthquakes occurred in the Eastern California shear zone, which is just east of the San Andreas fault. Since this is not the most common of areas where earthquakes have hit, geologists are very interested in how this all happened, as well as how this will affect the Earth years down the road.

These were known as strike-slip earthquakes, which means that two blocks of the Earth shift side-by-side, grinding past each other. Ground movements were felt all the way to Phoenix, Arizona. Luckily, no casualties have resulted from these two quakes.

These earthquakes simultaneously broke two sections of faults that cut across each other. They were broken at almost a complete right angle. Earthquakes have been known to occur at individual faults, but it’s becoming more and more evident that multiple faults are hot spots for earthquakes to start shaking.

Residents in California are on high alert as earthquakes tend to lead to more earthquakes. When plates are being moved around and there has been a shift in landscape, that can easily trigger off more rumbles. It was apparent that the same fault ruptured more than once in a short time, thus triggering the two back-to-back earthquakes.

It is expected that up to 400 earthquakes of a magnitude of 3 or higher could occur in the next few weeks. These minor aftershocks will be casually felt by many and the possibility of another earthquake does still exist.