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Small quake jolts Channel Islands area

January 29, 2009 | 10:02 am

A light earthquake rattled the Channel Islands area early this morning, but there were no initial reports of damage. The magnitude-4.2 quake was centered about 32 miles from San Clemente Island and about 45 miles from Avalon, on Catalina Island, according to the U.S. Geological Survey and Caltech monitoring system.

It occurred about 12:42 a.m. Caltech seismologist Kate Hutton said a quake of this size was not unusual in the Channel Islands area and could be part of a recent uptick in seismic activity in the region. Last week, there were two earthquakes in the magnitude-3 range near Marina del Rey and Reseda.

"Some months are very quiet and some months are very active," she said. "When they are active, they tend to be active in several places."

There was not enough consistent data to pinpoint the fault that slipped, but Hutton added, "The strain that drives the whole earthquake system in Southern California is common between all these earthquakes."

Hutton said temblors of this size, even when they are directly under urban centers, do not tend to cause much structural damage. Since the rattler this morning, no one has called in to complain about any damage, said Avalon Fire Capt. Mike Krug.

"I slept through it," he said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Burt Lyon said he felt the quake as he was watching television. But Lyon said there was no damage at his home in Avalon.

"It was just a slight jolt," he said. "It was very, very brief."

--Jia-Rui Chong