Magnitude 3.5 earthquake mildly shakes South Los Angeles

A magnitude 3.5 earthquake was reported Wednesday morning at 8:31 a.m. in the Willowbrook neighborhood of Los Angeles
A magnitude 3.5 earthquake was reported at 8:31 a.m. Wednesday in the Willowbrook neighborhood of Los Angeles.
(U.S. Geological Survey)

As if the ground-shaking events of Wednesday morning were not enough, Los Angeles got a different kind of jolt as many tuned in to the historic inauguration in Washington, D.C.

A magnitude 3.5 earthquake hit at 8:31 a.m. in Willowbrook. It was felt across the region but was too small to cause any damage. It occurred just before Kamala Harris, the former California senator, was sworn in as the first female vice president.

The earthquake’s epicenter, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, was just west of Magic Johnson Park, less than a mile from Compton and a mile from West Athens. The earthquake occurred at a depth of 11.7 miles.


Seismologist Lucy Jones said the earthquake occurred near but not on the Newport-Inglewood fault, which has long been considered one of Southern California’s top seismic danger zones because it runs under some of the region’s most densely populated areas.

“The focal mechanism (which maps the direction of motion at all the seismic stations) shows us the ground moved up and down,” Jones wrote on Twitter. “The NI fault moves sideways.”

The earthquake was felt as far north as Calabasas and as far south as Orange County.

In the last 10 days, there have been no earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater centered nearby. An average of five earthquakes with magnitudes between 3.0 and 4.0 occur each year in the greater Los Angeles area, according to a recent three-year data sample.

As is common when the ground starts moving in the Golden State, residents took to social media to comment on the interesting timing of the earthquake.

“An inauguration, a Lady Gaga concert, AND an earthquake before 9am? Party!” one person wrote on Twitter.

“Wow earthquake twitter and inauguration twitter combining forces today is an energy I wasn’t expecting,” commented another.


Some joked that the quake was the Earth’s way of celebrating the country’s new leaders, while others said it was just the opposite.

“Mother Nature is also excited for Joe and Kamala! Love an Inauguration Day earthquake,” actress Ashley Argota wrote on Twitter.

Comedian London Hughes commented that “even Mother Nature knows it’s a big day for America.”

Did you feel this earthquake? Consider reporting what you felt to the USGS. Even if you didn’t feel this small earthquake, you never know when the Big One is going to strike. Ready yourself by following our five-step earthquake preparedness guide and building your own emergency kit.

Times staff writer Rong-Gong Lin II contributed to this report