4.5 Magnitude Earthquake Felt In San Diego

By Ben Hamill - May 12 2020

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake Felt In San Diego

The U.S. Geological Survey has confirmed that the moving of the earth experienced and reported by San Diegans on Sunday afternoon was in fact a 4.5 magnitude earthquake. The quake is thought to have originated in Imperial County, after which it made its way across East Village and as far as Lakeside and surrounds. It first hit Imperial County at around 3p.m. on Sunday afternoon and is thought to have originated from a depth of about 10 kilometers.

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Even though mostly locals had reported having felt the quiver, U.S. Geology Survey map indicates that some folks living in the vicinity just south of the Palm Springs border may have experienced at least some of the rattle too.

The Regions Affected

According to local seismologist Tom Rockwell, who is a seismologist at the San Diego State University, the quake appeared to have originated very near the northwest end of the Superstition Mountain fault zone. Reports of the quake streamed in on Sunday afternoon as was apparently felt in Del Mar, Julian, Ramona, San Diego, Borrego Springs, Campo, Oceanside, El Cajon, Escondido, Lemon Grove, Imperial Beach, Carlsbad and National City.

What makes the quake of particular interest to the world of seismology, is that appears to have originated as a result of the same exact fault line that caused the 1968 Borrego Mountain quake, a rambler that measured a whopping 6.5 in magnitude. Borrego Mountain quake is until today considered the largest and most destructive quake to have hit Southern Carolina and surrounding regions since the infamous Kern County earthquake of roughly 16 years earlier.

Borrego Mountain quake sowed destruction along a path that affected regions as far away as Las Vegas, Fresno and Yosemite Valley. It caused damage across large parts of Southern California, severing electricity powerlines as far as it went, cracking plastered buildings wide open, and eventually rocking back and forth on its normally-sturdy keel the Queen Mary for what was at the time recorded as a period of time spanning at least 5 whole minutes.

No Cause For Concern

Sunday’s quake is regarded by seismologists as fairly moderate. Scientists however warned of the possibility of a larger quake striking the same region within a question of 24 hours. Rockwell at the time said that even though there was a roughly 5% chance of the quake having been a fore shock and a mere precursor to a major quake event, the likelihood of that becoming a reality was exceptionally slim.

The region in and around San Diego is known for its fault lines and earth disturbances. Even so, no major earthquakes had hit San Diego in recent times. Residents were however at various stages over the course of the past couple of decades warned of a possible repeat or at least near-repeat of a quake the magnitude of 1968’s Borrego Mountain event.

Nothing even close has however since been recorded and seismologists aren’t too concerned about the real likelihood of an event of Borrego Mountain’s magnitude happening in the immediate future.


When and where did the largest earthquake ever recorded occur?

In Chile – the year was 1960.

Are all earthquakes dangerous?

No. Most quakes are mostly minor, and some can hardly even be felt.

Do specific weather conditions influence earthquakes?

No. Fault lines do.

Are foreshocks and aftershocks common?

Yes, these are in actual fact smaller earthquakes.

At what magnitude does an earthquake become dangerous?

At magnitude 7 and up.

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