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Freeway damage not related to Pico Rivera earthquake, engineers conclude

March 16, 2010 | 12:25 pm

Instrumental Intensity ImageAuthorities have determined that the cracks on the Santa Ana Freeway near Lakewood Boulevard were caused by wear and tear, not this morning's 4.4 earthquake.

The cracks on Interstate 5 were reported soon after the temblor struck. But California Highway Patrol officer Monica Posada said officials said the damage was caused by road wear, not the temblor.

Residents living near the epicenter near Pico Rivera said some items fell off shelves and tables, but authorities said they have no reports of structural damage to homes.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the temblor struck at 4:04 a.m. about 11 miles east of downtown Los Angeles and about one mile from Pico Rivera. The depth was recorded at about 11 miles. The quake was considered small, but it was felt over a large swath of Southern California.

On the USGS website, more than 1,000 people across Southern California reported feeling the temblor.

Tuesday's quake produced about 500 times less energy than the Whittier Narrows earthquake, said Kate Hutton, a seismologist at Caltech. Tuesday's shaker was also weaker than the 5.5 Chino Hills earthquake in the summer of 2008, which was felt widely but caused little damage.

Earthquakes with a magnitude of 4 are actually quite common in Southern California, occurring somewhere in the region every month or two. The last magnitude 4 earthquake in the region occurred Saturday in a remote area of northern San Diego County near the town of Julian.

"It's all location, location, location," Hutton said. "The only thing that distinguishes this [morning's earthquake] is that it happened in a populated area."

-- Rong-Gong Lin II

Map credit: USGS