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4.7 quake renews worries about destructive Newport-Inglewood fault

No major damage was reported from the magnitude 4.7 earthquake centered in Lennox, but some windows broke near the epicenter. Seismologists suspect that the magnitude-4.7 earthquake that shook a large stretch of Southern California on Sunday night erupted along the Newport-Inglewood fault, which experts have long feared would produce a devastating temblor.

"The initial focal mechanism is consistent with a slip on the Newport-Inglewood fault, which was the source of the damaging 1933 Long Beach earthquake," the U.S. Geological Survey said in a statement. "Two of the early aftershocks, however, are west of the Newport-Inglewood fault trend. Later aftershocks will help to define the fault plane that ruptured."

USGS officials are not sure whether Sunday's temblor occurred on the Newport-Inglewood but noted that a 1920 quake in the same area erupted on that fault line.

The quake hit at 8:39 p.m. and was centered near Lennox, a community between Inglewood and Hawthorne and east of Los Angeles International Airport. Lasting about 15 seconds, the temblor could be felt as far away as the high desert, Indio, Carpinteria and San Diego County. There were no reports of major damage or injuries.

The earthquake was "a bit deep," originating 8.4 miles below the surface, said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Susan Hough. "That tends to make it less sharp -- less of a jerky, abrupt motion."

As a result, most of the region felt the quake as a rolling motion, though some closer to the center may have felt a jolt.

The Newport-Inglewood fault, beginning just off the Orange County coast and extending 50 miles northwest through Long Beach, Inglewood and into West Los Angeles, is believed capable of generating a quake in the magnitude-7 range and has been the subject of dire quake scenarios because it runs directly under some of the most densely populated areas of Southern California.

Movement along the southern part of that fault caused the 1933 Long Beach quake, a 6.3 temblor centered off Newport Beach that killed 115 people, mainly in Long Beach and Compton. That was the second-largest number of fatalities in a California temblor in recorded history. Damage to school buildings caused by that quake led to major steps toward earthquake-resistant construction in the state.

A study by the Division of Mines and Geology found that a quake along the Newport-Inglewood fault could cause blockage of the Hollywood Freeway at the over-crossings for Hollywood and Sunset boulevards, reduction of the capacity of Los Angeles International Airport to 30% for two days, the indefinite loss of 34% of all hospital beds in Los Angeles and Orange counties, the shutdown of five power plants for three days and impediments in water supplies.

The USGS said in its statement that the Newport-Inglewood fault "was formerly thought to be capable of very large earthquakes. More recent research has shown that, instead, it is of less concern and only capable of up to about [magnitude] 7.4."

Though there was little damage, Sunday's temblor was felt across a wide area.

"It felt like all the windows were about to pop," said Joseph Poindexter, 36, of Los Angeles, who was inside the Hollywood Park Casino. "It sounded like a big sonic boom. Everybody started running or ducking under the tables."

Automatic sensors initially logged a magnitude 5, but as more data came in, seismologists downgraded it to a magnitude 4.7. A brief aftershock, registering 3.1, followed the quake at 8:45 p.m., also centered in the Lennox area.

At the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Lennox station, deputies said the shaking was brief but intense.

"It was pretty strong but over in about 10 seconds," said Lt. Kent Wegener. "There are no [immediate] reports of damage. At this point, we are checking all the critical facilities and getting our ducks in a row."

Los Angeles city and county fire officials also said they had not received significant damage reports in residential or industrial areas, including the coastal refineries.

In Hawthorne, firefighters were called after a lightpole on Chadron Avenue, near Crenshaw Boulevard,  was damaged during the earthquake. One man suffered a heart attack, but it was unclear whether that was connected to the quake.

"Luckily, nothing major so far," said Hawthorne Police Lt. Michael Ishii.

At the South Bay Galleria, south of the epicenter, ceiling tiles fell inside a movie theater. There were no injuries reported, though police were called to the scene to help reunite customers with belongings they'd left inside when rushing for the exits, said Redondo Beach Police Sgt. Scott Weibel.

--Scott Gold, Jean Merl, Jia-Rui Chong, Andrew Blankstein and Rong-Gong Lin II

Caption: No major damage was reported from the magnitude 4.7 earthquake centered in Lennox, but some windows broke near the epicenter.  Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Times quake map

Photo gallery

USGS summary

Comments () | Archives (14)

The earthquake yesterday was just a twitch comparing to what the geologists said what will happen. After living in southern calif. for most of my life I don't think the big one will ever hit.

I currently live just east of downtown Long Beach and we got quite a shake-I had one item only fall off a shelf (it is unbreakable). I have long had concerns about the Inglewood/Newport fault as until two years ago I lived at the northern end of the fault (MarVista/Palms) which is overdue for a major quake (seimotologists say the 1933 Long Beach earthquake relieved the stress on the southern end).

While I have living supplies, I am always at a quandry about what to do when the earth is shaking. I don't have anyplace to crawl under and it is a myth that one should stand under a doorway. Not to mention that I am so scared when they hit, I am immobilized.

The Northridge quake hit us hard in Mar Vista; that was when we all realized that our batteries were dead, so now I make sure the batteries are current and I have enough bottled water in my refrigerator to last me at least three days.

We have been warned.Get your earthquake emergency kits together. Water,food for at least five days, batteries, flashlight, medicines, and cash.GO LAKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I live in Olympia, WA and we had a 6.9 quake and at first they thought it was 7.0. It was called the Nisqually Earthquake in Feb 2001. It more than shattered glass many older brick buildings suffered significant damage but luckily no deaths. The quake was 20 miles under the surface but I tell you it was one hell of a ride for 30 seconds. If it had been at 8 miles like the one you had in LA there would have been very serious damage. The big is one is coming no doubt though. The scientists are right based on the frequency and cycles of earthquakes going back thousands of years. The 9.0 is due anytime now here in the next 500 years on the Cascadia Subduction fault that runs from WA to Northern CA. Hang on dudes!!!

I have to agree with SeanBoy, a lot of hype, kind of like the Swine Flu fiasco. I think if we were going to have a substantial earthquake again, think it would have already occurred. However, everyone should always be prepared for the type of natural disasters that could happen here. Sometimes when we speculate too much, people get tired of hearing it. Perhaps the businesses that had broken windows will invest in a better quality window. Local glass companies should be busy for a while today, good for the economy hey?

Anything can happen...anything

The last major earthquake along that fault line was in 1920? And they're calling a 5.0 a possible setup for devastation. Clearly these reporters: --Scott Gold, Jean Merl, Jia-Rui Chong, Andrew Blankstein and Rong-Gong Lin II have not lived in CA during a major earthquake (over 6.0). Hyping up the little twitch that was felt in the valley to a possible worst case scenario is just ludicrous reporting. If you're trying to scare native angelenos over this roll, I don't think it's working. I was on the 118 freeway today, and I failed to see the mass exodus leaving our great city. Maybe they're taking a different freeway, maybe the reporters should all carpool to Utah and take their exaggerations with them.

That wasn't an earthquake you silly people!

That was just the Denver Nuggets arriving in town to play some basketball.

But you should be scared anyway.

I'm in Laguna Hills near the intersection of the 5 and the 405.

I first felt a moderate bump like someone in the condo next door had slammed a heavy door really hard. (It didn't dawn on me at the time that the unit is currently vacant.) Then a second or two later about 10 seconds of good old California Rock-N-Roll began.

I've been a California resident for all of my 62 years. I'm pretty good at determining the intensity and whether I should run for cover or just enjoy the ride. I guessed it was about a 4.5 so I just rode it out.

I was surprised that my 7 year old cat, Ms. Julia, was fairly calm about the event. She usually freaks out at 4+ jolts. Maybe she is getting mellower in her old age

It's foolish and dangerous to think that the "Big One" will never hit here. You don't have to understand the science, but these guys predicting this stuff as best they can are experts for a reason...they've studied seismic events, quake patterns, and geology for a very long time

The same kind of person foolishly stays at home when his town is evacuated in the wake of a hurricane, and if his house isn't destroyed says "See, it wasn't that bad! The warnings are always false!"

It doesn't take much to put an earthquake kit together. Just do it. And hope to hell you don't ever need it. Smugness won't protect you from the ceiling falling in.

It may have "only" been a 4.7 quake, but when you're on the 10th floor of a building on springs, you feel it.

I can honestly say that the earth moved for me.

It's not the Newport-Inglewood fault, it's Bush's fault. Everything else is.

When you hear people say there's no need for assault weapons, just wait until the big one hits and roaming bands of liberals who are expecting their government to come to their aid realize maybe they should have put some food and water away since it'll take the government weeks to feed them. They'll be looking to you to "share the wealth" of your stash. They're in for a surprise. Those of us that support your right to own a gun lived through the LA riots (3 days to bring in the National Guard), saw what happened with Katrina (forget blaming it on Bush, the State and the people weren't prepared. Save yourself.

Seismologists are just as negative as economists, maybe even more so. When was So Cal's last major quake? Northridge in 1994?

Earthquakes are a nuisance. The only problem is Caltrans has yet to fiture out how to build bridges to withstand them.


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