December 14, 2008

Small earthquakes reported west of Death Valley

Today's temblors, in a series of at least 55 small quakes since Friday, are not cause for concern, a geophysicist says.

By Raja Abdulrahim
Los Angeles Times

A series of small earthquakes rumbled through an uninhabited area west of Death Valley today, following dozens of other small temblors in recent days, geologists said.

The United States Geological Survey has reported at least 55 earthquakes, ranging in magnitude from 1.1 to 4.0, since Friday in the desert area about 150 miles north of Los Angeles. The earthquakes have caused only weak shaking and no damage.

Three quakes today -- measuring 3.2, 3.3 and 3.4 -- followed a 4.0 quake Saturday morning.

USGS geophysicist Douglas Given said though the "swarm of [small] earthquakes" is an unusual pattern, it was not cause for concern about a bigger earthquake. More commonly, he said, a larger earthquake is followed by several smaller aftershocks.

The most likely outcome is that the earthquakes will taper off, Given said.

This same area of the desert experienced three 4.0-magnitude earthquakes in February, Given said. So many earthquakes in one area is more typical of places that are volcanic in nature, he said.