Moderate earthquake strikes central California; no immediate reports of damage |

Moderate earthquake strikes central California; no immediate reports of damage

Associated Press

PARKFIELD, Calif. – A moderate earthquake struck Central California on Tuesday that was felt from San Francisco to the Los Angeles area. There was no immediate report of injuries.

The quake, which struck at 10:15 a.m. PDT, had a preliminary magnitude of 5.9 and was centered 9 miles south of Parkfield, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The area is 17 miles northeast of Paso Robles, scene of an earthquake that killed two people in December.

A series of aftershocks quickly rattled the area, one with a preliminary 5.0 magnitude four minutes after the main earthquake and three others 4.1 or above.

Paso Robles police said there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

“It rattled everything hanging on the walls and the chandelier was swinging. It didn’t do any damage to our house. There were two shakers, one right after the other,” said Ben Brown, who lives in Paso Robles.

The quake was felt along a 350-mile stretch, as far north as San Francisco and as far south as Santa Ana, southeast of Los Angeles, the geological survey said.

Parkfield, population 37, is known as the earthquake capital of California. Located on the San Andreas fault, it has experienced six similar, magnitude 6.0 earthquakes with apparent regularity – one approximately every 22 years.

The USGS even named its major long-term earthquake research project the Parkfield Experiment.

“This is earthquake country. It’s a larger earthquake than what usually occurs, but it’s not unprecedented,” said USGS spokeswoman Stephanie Hanna. “We expect big earthquakes in this area, but don’t know when they’ll occur.”

The Dec. 22, 2003, earthquake collapsed old downtown buildings in Paso Robles, pitching an 1892 clock tower building onto the street and crushing a row of parked cars. Two people were killed in the state’s first fatal quake since the 6.7-magnitude temblor that hit the Northridge area of Los Angeles in 1994.

A magnitude 5 quake can cause considerable damage and a magnitude 6 quake severe damage, though problems are generally far less severe in remote areas and areas with strong building codes.