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Earthquake: Swarm of temblors, including magnitude 5.2 quake, hits Imperial County

Imperial County earthquake swarm epicenter map
(U.S. Geological Survey)

Imperial County was hit by a swarm of earthquakes Saturday, the largest one measuring magnitude 5.2, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage.

Quake swarms are not unusual for this border region. But the magnitude 5.2 quake caught the attention of residents.

Lilia Gonzales, 40, was at home in Brawley when the earthquake hit and at first thought that her children were fighting. When she realized it was an earthquake, she wasn’t worried.

“It was nothing out of the ordinary for us,” she said, but added that it was a big rumble. “I could hear my house shaking.”

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The magnitude 5.2 earthquake was reported at 10:55 a.m. nine miles from Brawley and was felt across Imperial County, in San Diego and in parts of the Inland Empire. The U.S. Geological Survey said some people as far away as Los Angeles felt it.

“Quakes in the Imperial Valley often come in swarms. Which continue until they stop,” earthquake expert Lucy Jones said on Twitter. A “potentially bigger quake is ALWAYS possible to be triggered by any quake. Happens 5% of the time.”

Elizabeth Valdivia, 46, of Brawley was also at home when the earthquake hit. By the time she came on shift as a front desk clerk at the Brawley Inn that afternoon, the aftershocks had stopped. They had brought a little light rocking, now and again, after the initial shake.

Their out-of-town guests, who had not been through an earthquake, were unnerved by the experience, she was told, and the hanging light in the lobby was swinging like a pendulum.

According to the Brawley Police Department, no damage was reported.

The earthquake occurred 18 miles from Imperial, 22 miles from El Centro, 30 miles from Calexico and 45 miles from Coachella.

There have been scores of aftershocks, including several measuring 4.0 and greater.

The earthquake swarm appeared to strike in the southern end of the Brawley Seismic Zone, a seismically active region where tectonic plates are moving away from each other.

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Jones added that the quake appears to be along the Westmorland fault.

The area sees regular seismic activity including swarms of hundreds of quakes. The Brawley Seismic Zone is particularly important to watch because it is the region that connects the San Andreas and Imperial faults, both of which can produce damaging earthquakes.

“The Imperial County Fire Department and Office of Emergency Services is currently monitoring and assessing recent earthquake activity in our region,” a tweet on Imperial County’s Twitter account said Saturday. “There has not been any report of damages yet and our crews are conducting damage assessments.”

In the previous 10 days, there had been 11 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater centered nearby.

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An average of five earthquakes with magnitudes between 5.0 and 6.0 occur per year in California and Nevada, according to a recent three-year data sample.

The earthquake occurred at a depth of 3.6 miles.

Did you feel this earthquake? Consider reporting what you felt to the USGS.

Find out what to do before, and during, an earthquake near you by reading our five-step earthquake preparedness guide.

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This article was originally generated by Quakebot, a computer application that monitors the latest earthquakes detected by the USGS. A Times editor reviewed the post before it was published. If you’re interested in learning more about the system, visit our list of frequently asked questions.


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