Magnitude-4.4 Quake Shakes Southern California

The earthquake was centered in the Santa Monica Mountains northwest of the Westwood area and caused shaking throughout Southern California

A magnitude-4.4 earthquake centered in west Los Angeles shook a widespread area of Southern California early Monday, but there were no reports of significant damage after one of the strongest quakes in the region in the last five years.

The quake, initially measured at magnitude-4.7, was reported at 6:26 a.m. and centered about five miles northwest of Westwood (map), just southwest of the intersection of the 101 and 405 freeways. Strong shaking was reported throughout the region, including the San Fernando Valley, Ventura County, Huntington Beach, Temecula and other areas.

As of 8:30 a.m., six aftershocks were reported, including one of magnitude greater than 2.7. A magnitude-2.5 quake was reported near the same area about 10 a.m.

Shaking in some areas continued for several seconds during what was the strongest quake in about five years years to shake Los Angeles. The quake was reported at a depth of about five miles, a typical depth for the region that will make it difficult to determine the fault on which the quake occurred, Caltech seismolgists said.

"The Santa Monicas are an actively growing mountain range. They're going up faster than erosions bringing them down," said Dr. Lucille Jones of the US Geological Survey. "So we have to have something up in there."

The quake's energy probably produced a "rolling" feeling for people in the Los Angeles basin. Residents in the Santa Monica Mountains, near the center of the quake, likely felt a sharp jolt, said Egill Hauksson, a seismologist with Caltech.

"It's a moment just to underscore for everybody how important it is to be prepared, why I've put such a focus on strengthening our buildings, our water and our infrastructure," LA Mayor Eric Garcetti told NBC4 .

NBCLA Facebook page visitors reported shaking that lasted about five seconds.

NBC4 received no reports of significant damage. Personnel from more than 100 Los Angeles fire stations were deployed to survey neighborhoods.

Minor delays were reported on Metro rail lines, but normal service resumed after officials reported no damage. The California Highway Patrol reported no damage to Los Angeles' roads.

"I can't believe how that felt -- it was like a whipping feeling," said page visitor Christina Marshall.

"Was very strong in Santa Monica," said resident Mary-Anne King. "Rattled and shook. Scary. I remember waking up with the Northridge Quake. I hate them."

Small aftershocks are likely for the next couple of days, according to seismologists with Caltech. More significant shaking is possible in the hours following the earthquake.

The quake comes nearly six years after the magnitude-5.5 Chino Hills earthquake caused similar widespread shaking throughout the Los Angeles basin. That quake on July 29, 2008 was centered about 28 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.

"We've been in somewhat of lull for a number of years relative to the current in the late 80s and 1990s," said Robert Grades, of the USGS. "It's correct we're in a bit of a lull, but within the range of what's typical of our experience."

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