A magnitude-7.1 earthquake cracked roads and buildings in Southern California during the Fourth of July weekend holiday in 2019, a day after a magnitude-6.4 quake, making it the largest magnitude earthquake in Southern California in the last two decades.
Below, a look back at significant Southern California earthquakes since the Northridge Earthquake in January 1994. The quakes listed here include those that measured 5.5 magnitude or greater in the nearly three decades since Northridge.
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It’s not the largest magnitude earthquake on this list, but it is by far the most devastating. The Northridge Earthquake centered in the west San Fernando Valley began rattling Los Angeles on Jan. 17, 1994 at 4:31 a.m., a moment seared into the memories of residents who were awakened by the terrifying shaking. Fifty-seven people died. More than 9,000 people were injured and 20,000 were displaced in a natural disaster that caused an estimated $20 billion in damage. The destruction included collapsed buildings and freeway overpasses, snapped water and gas lines, rampant fires and landslides.
Ridgecrest Earthquake Sequence
Thursday’s magnitude-6.4 quake was in the same area that was struck by a magnitude-5.4 quake in 1995. That Aug. 17, 1995 earthquake, centered north of Ridgecrest, was followed by more than 2.500 aftershocks during the following five weeks. On Sept. 20 that same year, a second large earthquake struck the region. At magnitude-5.8, it was likely on the same fault system as the earlier quake. More than 1,900 aftershocks followed the September earthquake.
Hector Mine Earthquake
In October 1999, one of the largest earthquakes recorded in Southern California was centered in the desert east of LA. The magnitude-7.1 Hector Mine quake produced shaking throughout SoCal and in parts of Arizona to Nevada from its epicenter in the Mojave Desert. It was in such a remote location that it was named after an open quarry pit and caused little damage, aside from a surface rupture in the Twentynine Palms Marine Base.
Laguna Salada Earthquake
On the morning of Feb. 22, 2002, a magnitude-5.7 earthquake shook a widespread part of the U.S.-Mexico border region and as far north as Orange County. Thirteen significant aftershocks, measuring magnitude 3 or greater followed. The same fault likely produced a magnitude-7.0 quake in 1890
Northern Baja Earthquake
In late December 2009, the U.S.-Mexico border was again the site of a quake that rattled a large part of Southern California. The magnitude-5.8 Northern Baja quake was located about 22 miles southeast of Calexico, California. It's likely the quake involved a zone of faults that run parallel to, but are separate from, the infamous San Andreas Fault.
Sierra El Mayor
Rumbling that originated from northern Baja California surged throughout Southern California and into parts of Arizona and Nevada. The magnitude-7.2 quake generated moderate shaking in SoCal.
Independence Day Quake
Just as Southern Californians were settling in for a day off and celebratory fireworks, the shaking set in -- and kept going and going. It was a magnitude-6.4 earthquake centered in the Searles Valley area about 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The quake caused damage in the immediate area, but only rattled a few nerves in the LA area.
July 5, 2019 Earthquake
What we thought to be the main event turned out to be a foreshock. A day after the magnitude-6.4 Searles Valley quake, a magnitude-7.1 earthquake generated a strong swaying motion throughout Los Angeles and the surrounding area. Click here for updates.