Quake Storm Southern California

Something very odd is happening in southern California. The news is reporting it as a cluster of modest quakes with the strongest in the 5.x range. Sort of a “ho hum” for California.

Looking at a prior quake posting, to pick up the maps, there’s a whole lot of “stuff” happening over a wide area. Here’s the map I like most (despite the USGS saying it is depricated):

Quake Storm California 11 March 2013

Quake Storm California 11 March 2013

Over 400 quakes, pushing 500, is interesting, but look at the number of ‘red spots’ down where the spreading zone comes ashore (from the Gulf Of California through the Salton Sea and eventually on up to Death Valley and Mammoth “Lakes”.) That is just in the last hour. Spread all over, wide and tall. Not just one fault moving. It looks like the whole area is getting pulled or pushed. (My guess would be pulled, as it is a spreading zone). Heck, I may get my “little volcano” yet ;-)


This is an interesting ‘later time point’ map. Notice the red spots that are ‘the last hour’ have spread up the mountains inland and up the fault system along the coast. The energy release is spreading north, along both sides. (Though it looks to me like a bit more toward Mammoth “Lakes” supervolcano area. Might get a small cluster or tiny eruption there eventually. It’s too solidified / cooled to do the “super” thing without decades of heating / melting.)

Quakes California 11 Mar 2013 6 PM

Quakes California 11 Mar 2013 6 PM

UPDATE 5:30 pm PST

I’ve done a ‘screen capture’ of the USGS interactive map. It’s not as ‘friendly’ to post embedding, but has a different view on things. Here’s a close up of the L.A. to Salton Sea area. You can see both the spread, and how a ‘cluster’ is smack in the middle.

I’m still rooting for a ‘tiny volcano’ there. ;-)

Quakes L.A. Area 11 Mar 2013 about 5:30 pm PST

Quakes L.A. Area 11 Mar 2013 about 5:30 pm PST

You can get the original map here (but need to adjust settings and zoom in):


California Live Map

California Quakes with fault lines

California Quakes with fault lines

Original Image

Global Views

30 Days:

30 Day Global View

30 Day Global View


Quakes Last 7 Days Live

Quakes Last 7 Days Live

Northern Hemisphere

North Polar Earthquake Map

North Polar Earthquake Map

Original Image with Clickable Details

North America

Quakes North America Live Map

Quakes North America Live Map

Original Image

Southern Hemisphere

A view of Earthquakes from the South Pole

A view of Earthquakes from the South Pole

Original Image with Clickable Details

Asia and Russia

Asia Quake Map

Asia Quake Map

Original Image with clickable areas

Australia / New Zealand

This is a live map of the Australia / Indonesia / New Zealand area:

Australia / Indonesia / New Zealand Quake Map

Australia / Indonesia / New Zealand Quake Map

Original with clickable regions to zoom in

Map of Plates

You can see it is where plates collide here:

Plates Of The World

Plates Of The World

Original Image, and with other language options.

Some Volcano Stuff

The Smithsonian page:


USGS Page listing recent major quakes:


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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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24 Responses to Quake Storm Southern California

  1. philjourdan says:

    A little farther north than the swarm last year. But very impressive!

  2. E.M.Smith says:


    It’s the “farther north” that worries me. Headed toward the volcano zone, if slowly…

    Over 500 on the quake count now, so continuing to ramp up.

    (And folks wonder why I have “Quake Kits” and store some food and fuel… )

  3. adolfogiurfa says:

    Those quake storms usually precede a volcanic eruption.

  4. The last 4 around 15.08 seem to be approaching Anza, at the rate of 1km / 90 minutes, although that’s probably detection error.

  5. R. de Haan says:

    It’s all over drudge now. The headers talk of a bigger quake, no volcano talk at all although for now this seems the most logical explanation for this swarm.

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    I’ve added an UPDATE with a copy of the interactive map for the L.A. to Salton Sea area. Gives an interesting view of things.

    At 544 quakes now on the California Regional map. That’s over 84 more quakes in 7 hours 40 minutes. About 10 an hour. But most of them too small for folks to really notice.

    Still, things being shaky….

    @R. de Haan:

    This kind of quake storm can be the precursor to a “Great Quake”, but with the way these are spread out all over, it just doesn’t look like the force is on one fault line. Looks more like a bunch of blocks in the area ‘settling’ as the sides are stretched out a bit giving them room.

    There is one “hot spot” with loads of 1ish to 2ish sized and a 4.7 in the middle.


    I hope you are right.

    I’m still hoping for a ‘tiny volcano’

    @Martin Fisher:

    Interesting… Reading “direction of drift” is often useful, always risky ;-)

    Unfortunately, IMHO, the very long term pattern looks like ‘drifting north’ and I expect that (eventually) the Hayward / Calaveras system up near me will let go with a ‘near 7’ event. That has been the historical pattern of San Andreas ( Loma Preita / Superbowl Quake). First one side then “some years” later, the other.

    Thus my “attention” to my quake kits and preparations. It will happen. Just a question of how soon…

    Yet the worse risk is an 8.x in the L.A. Basin. It’s “next north” of the clusters, and “ready to go”. IIRC the USGS gives it the highest probability as a basin in California. Something like 70% inside 30 years last time I looked. (Though I think the USGS statistic is for ‘large destructive quake’ of 6-8, not just ‘great quake’).

    The last one was 1800 ish, so about time for another. Maybe I ought to look up the solar / lunar / planetary positions for that Great Quake and see if anything is similar to now…

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    Added another “UPDATE” map up top. Looks like some ‘red spots’ going up the spreading zone through Death Valley toward Mammoth “Lakes”. Then there’s one red spot over by the coast up north, back where the spreading zone zigs out to sea again.

  8. John F. Hultquist says:

    Rock & Roll!
    At 250 miles away when Mt. St. Helens blew we got 5/8 inch of very fine glassy-ash. By mid-afternoon we were dark — being under the plume but could see the edge of that (blue sky) to the south. And I’ve visited the west side of the blast zone and moved back and forth across the landscape from downed trees to standing trees. We were working on a hiking trail for 2 days – about 10 years ago. Very interesting.

    Stay Safe. John

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    Now more “fresh red” in SoCal AND a nice sized “red one” where the Cascadia starts (as the fault leaves shore in N. Cal.) Total in California region now 578.

    @John: I’ll try… so far most of this is a few hundred miles away from me…


    2013 March 12 03:40:21 UTC

    Earthquake Details

    This is a computer-generated message — this event has not yet been reviewed by a seismologist.

    Magnitude 3.4

    Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 03:40:21 UTC
    Monday, March 11, 2013 at 08:40:21 PM at epicenter
    Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

    Location 40.296°N, 124.474°W
    Depth 19.2 km (11.9 miles)

    16 km (10 miles) W (259°) from Petrolia, CA
    36 km (22 miles) SSW (210°) from Ferndale, CA
    38 km (24 miles) SW (234°) from Rio Dell, CA
    61 km (38 miles) SSW (206°) from Eureka, CA
    323 km (200 miles) NW (308°) from Sacramento, CA

    Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 2.3 km (1.4 miles); depth +/- 0.5 km (0.3 miles)
    Parameters Nph= 19, Dmin=16 km, Rmss=0.17 sec, Gp=259°,
    M-type=local magnitude (ML), Version=3

    Event ID nc71952505

  10. Judy F. says:

    Oh, great.

    Guess where I am traveling the next two weeks? Most of the length of California. Sorry EM, I am NOT hoping for a volcano of any size, nor The Big One. I really don’t want the water sloshing out of the pool where I plan to dip my winter weary toes, or a Tsunami to ruin my view of the ocean and I especially don’t want to be on a multi level freeway if it pancakes down.

    I know, I’m just selfish to think of myself. :)

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    @Judy F:

    Well, after Loma Prieta and the Northridge Quake, we don’t have many multi level freeways left… ;-)

    FWIW, the size quakes happening are so small that they are almost entirely unfelt. A 4 is about the minimum I can feel these days. (Unless directly on top of it). At about a 5 they are “interesting I guess” but nothing bad happens. At the 6 range, you start to get damage. 6.0 not much at all, 6.8 or more, over the fault houses will be knocked around, but not flattened and the sporadic badly built structure will have problems and fall (double decker freeways, apartments built over parking spaces with one wall basically a door and the others not too strong)

    I only worry about 7 and above these days. (Once you’ve been in a 7, and almost on top of the fault line at that, it just isn’t a big deal anymore…)

    FWIW, the kind of “volcano” I’m hoping for (and the only kind likely possible in the region) would be cinder cone about 50 feet tall and 200 foot around. Likely not visible unless inside a mile of it. Almost certainly all ‘over and done’ inside a week. That’s the kind of thing that area had about 10,000 years ago. But not much since… Oh, and all of them pretty much out at the Salton Sea or more inland, not closer to the coast. The “rift” comes ashore as the Gulf of California hits the Salton Sea area, then cuts ‘inland’ toward Death Valley and up toward Mono Lake. Unless you are on that line, no volcano. (It picks up again way inland up north at Mount Lassen and Shasta. Lassen last erupted about 1914 with a bit of smoke and a small ‘burp’ that didn’t get much past the mountain top.) So it’s important to realize that the kind / size of volcano we are talking about is, well, dinky and underpowered… (The one from about 9,000 years ago out in the desert is hard to find even if you are standing on it… and wasn’t much easier to find when it was active…)

    California won’t have a Tsunami from any quake here. Cascadia could, but not us. We could cause a small one somewhere else, maybe, but not likely. (Our faults are ‘inland’ so no sea floor displacement so no tsunami… at least, until it goes off shore again at the Cascadia / North of Eureka). For a tsunami here, worry about a Great Quake in Alaska. But then you will get several hours of notice.

    I you have an ocean view in So. Cal, any such tsunami would be hard to pick out from the regular waves. (Up near Crescent City is a different issue… that can be a nice sized one. Happened in the ’50s IIRC. About 20 foot up with all the slop and surge. If more than 100 foot from the shore, not much happened (as it is about that height there). Basically, anywhere the water is warm enough to enjoy (south of about Pismo Beach) it is a shallow enough approach and far enough from Alaska that the tsunami risk is ‘not much’. Basically the beach and stuff fronting it. See the LA risk map here for an example:


    Note that the “inundation line” is basically just the coastline.

    Here’s a close up for Redondo Beach (scroll to the right to see the coasline) and you can see that the large buildings (hotels and such) are back of the beach and that the beach is what is ‘at risk’.

    Click to access Tsunami_Inundation_RedondoBeach_Quad_LosAngeles.pdf

    So given that any tsunami likely has hours of warning here, and if not, the water draws away before it comes in, so you have time, just walk inland; I’d not be too worried about tsunami.

    Rest of State maps here:


    So, given all that, hope it cures any slight worries you might have.

    Now can I have a volcano? Just a little tiny one… Pleeeeeaase ?

  12. Judy F. says:

    Thanks for all the quake info, but I am a California girl, born and bred and have rocked and rolled for years. I missed being killed as an infant, when stuff fell into the crib during an earthquake in 1952, just after my Mom picked me up. I also have a letter from ancestors who went through the 1906 San Francisco quake, so my “quake history” gets personal.

    And to top it off, I will be going to Volcanoville, east of Sacramento. So, no, no volcano for you. I don’t want Mother Nature to get any crazy ideas, just so you can try out all your new stoves…

  13. Quail says:

    Do you know of any time lapse quake site where you can input a date range and see the activity flow for that time span? All I can find are total quakes (snapshots), not location changes through time.


  14. E.M.Smith says:

    YOW! We’re at 736 quakes on the California Regional and climbing still!


    All I can remember are snapshots for most things. I did see a ‘progressive map’ for Christchurch in N.Z., but I think that was just a one off… It is something I’d really like to have too.

    Here’s one for the big Japan quake: http://www.japanquakemap.com/

    Ah, and found the one for N.Z.: http://www.christchurchquakemap.co.nz/today

    Not animated, but another global quake site / map:


    @Judy F:

    Well, Oow Kaay… but when you are done, can you kick the cinder cone on the way out of the State and let it know to get started again?


  15. E.M.Smith says:

    The rate of new quakes looks to be slowing. We’re “only” at 776 on the California Regional.
    Only add 40 from my last comment date.

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    Now at 812 so still climbing…An add of 36.

  17. E.M.Smith says:

    A 7 in Papua Indonesia and California still running in the 470+ range… Shaky Shaky…

    Magnitude 7.0 – PAPUA, INDONESIA

    2013 April 06 04:42:36 UTC

    Earthquake Details

    This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.

    Magnitude 7.0

    Saturday, April 06, 2013 at 04:42:36 UTC
    Saturday, April 06, 2013 at 01:42:36 PM at epicenter
    Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

    Location 3.526°S, 138.466°E
    Depth 68 km (42.3 miles)
    Distances 238 km (147 miles) E of Enarotali, Indonesia
    256 km (159 miles) WSW of Abepura, Indonesia
    272 km (169 miles) WSW of Jayapura, Indonesia
    329 km (204 miles) WSW of Vanimo, Papua New Guinea
    Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 13.8 km (8.6 miles); depth +/- 7 km (4.3 miles)
    Parameters NST=145, Nph=145, Dmin=694.6 km, Rmss=0.7 sec, Gp= 11°,
    M-type=(unknown type), Version=E

    Magnitude: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
    Location: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)

    Event ID usb000g13s

  18. R. de Haan says:

    Iceland is “swarming” as well.

  19. Gail Combs says:

    Iceland? Not good we are waiting on Big sister to blow her top. When Eyjafjöll blows Katla often follows.

  20. Gail Combs says:

    Iceland geology blog has a discussion here

  21. P.G.Sharrow says:

    Here in California we are up to nearly 500 a week and earthquake day is not until after the new moon the 10th. The Area around Parkfield is moving but the San Andreas is not. The Mendocino area up north is getting quite active. I hope Vuk is collecting data. Look to the area just south of Parkfield. pg

  22. E.M.Smith says:

    For anyone who doesn’t know, Parkfield is about 1/2 way from that Monterey Bay bulge inward and the poking out point down south (but above the L.A. Basin). There’s a line of blue and yellow quakes north from about Parkfield to inland from Monterey. It is more or less in the center of that semi-circle of quakes. Closeup here:


    It was known as the most regular part of the fault system, having a minor quake roughly on schedule for a century or so, so a load of money was spent instrumenting it like crazy. And it stopped having regular quakes…

    So folks are now wondering if it is locked, or just slipping so regularly that it’s not making its usual midsized quakes, or what…. It could go either way, back to regular slips and midsized quakes, or “A Big One”. So something strange with the pause, no matter what.

    The Mendocino area is that coastal part above San Francisco Bay toward that next poking out bit.

    There’s quite a storm near the Geysers area in this closeup:

    Calistoga Mineral Water comes from there, and they have volcanic heated spas / mudbaths. It could easily make a volcano if it wanted to… but so far, just hot springs and water features…

    Iceland is quite a worry. I’ve speculated that when the sun goes quiet, we get a quake / volcano activity uptick. ( I speculate it is caused by particular tidal forces on the crust and magma pools). I dearly hope I am wrong. If / when Katla lets loose, the present cold and frozen UK and Germany will look like the Bahamas in comparison. One of the better theories about The Dark Ages is that it was an Iceland eruption that caused, basically. 4 years of winter and no sun at noon…

    At least this time we can ship food in from Brazil and Iowa… (and maybe people back out to warmer places…)

    It would be nice if it didn’t “go” for a few more centuries…

  23. adolfogiurfa says:

    ATT. E.M. THIS IS FOR YOU. The following reports are extraordinary:


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