Three earthquakes shake Humboldt County coast in 24 Hours

Dec 17, 2013 1:04 PM

By Nick Dobis, News Web/Social Media Producer

This morning a magnitude 4.2 earthquake shook residents of Eureka and Ferndale awake at 5:28 a.m.

“It definitely woke up myself and quite a few other residents, especially those in two story homes,” said Lt. Steve Knight of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.

The earthquake was one of three to strike off the coast of Humboldt County in 24 hours. According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s website, a smaller 2.9 magnitude quake was registered 8:51 a.m a.m. today to the southwest of where the 4.2 magnitude was registered and a 2.5 magnitude earthquake was registered just off the coast of Ferndale yesterday afternoon.

Knight stated his office didn’t receive any reports of significant damage or injuries.

“We’re pretty used to the earthquake activity up here, but regardless, they are always a cause for concern for our citizens,” Knight said.

Dr. Lori Dengler, a professor of geology at Humboldt State University and one of the leading earthquake experts in the area, also felt the tremor this morning.

“I was actually awake because I had just gotten back from London and definitely felt my home jiggle,” Dengler said.

Dengler explained most of costal California is dominated by the San Andreas Fault system which has been the culprit of many of the calamitous earthquakes in the state’s history. But the particular region where these three most recent earthquakes were recorded fall within the area known as the “Mendocino Triple Junction”, a region where three different techtonic plates meet to produce an awful lot of stress.

“One of the more damaging earthquakes we’ve seen out of this region was a 6.5 magnitude quake in 2010 which caused quite a bit of damage to homes in Ferndale,” Dengler said. “We’ve also seen earthquakes as large as 7.5 magnitude, but fortunately most of the earthquakes we see out of this region are mostly smaller ones.”

When asked if the three quakes in the last 24 hours are a sign of normal activity or an indication of a larger one approaching in the near future, Dengler said yes to both.

“These earthquakes are nothing unusual in the area and reflect normal activity,” Dengler said. “But a larger earthquake in the 6.5 to 7.0 magnitude range can still happen at any time.”


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