Summary of Earthquake Activity in Southern California in 2010

On the Android and I-Phone, there is an excellent application for tracking earthquakes in a selected area or around the world. The problem with this application is that there is, on average, a 6 plus magnitude earthquake somewhere in the world about every couple of days. This is a normal earthquake activity. There are even more lesser earthquakes on any given day that are well within the norm, and many shakings are actually aftershocks, not quakes. 

Even worse, getting the USGS notification feature through e-mail netted over 1,500 notifications for California and Baja earthquakes in a few months, with the vast majority of them occurring south of Fresno, CA.  An overwhelming majority of the quakes and aftershocks were in the 1.9 to 2.9 range. But there have been dozens that exceeded 4.0 and even 5.0 in magnitude.

If we lived in California during 2010, there were several shakings in a day, throughout the day and night, which had both  the little smart phone application and the USGS e-mail system sending notices all day and night!

There has been little in the national or international news about the hundreds of California disturbances that have occurred, mostly in Southern California, USA and Baja Mexico during 2010. On around June 15th, for example, over a hundred aftershocks rattled the south land and Baja in one 24 hour period, to no real fanfare outside of the regional news. 

One factor is demonstrated in the April, 2010 quake in Mexicali, Baja Mexico. This quake measured 7.2 in magnitude, killed two people and caused over $90 million US in damage. It is believed that aftershocks from that quake could continue until April 2011. 

When there is a major earthquake of 5.0 mag and higher, there might be, over time,  hundreds of aftershocks from that one quake, but is the big one coming? There are no indications that the enormous number of quakes and aftershocks would give any help in determining if, or when, a big earthquake is going to happen. There is no so-called “swarm” that has been a reliable predictor of major quakes.

In April, the USGS officially stated that the earthquake activity for SO CAL and Baja is not unusually high. The problem lies in the difference between earthquakes and aftershocks, which have been the real source of the frequent and almost daily rumblings and shakings.

In summary, with the region having the normal number of actual earthquakes, followed by an enormous number of aftershocks, which are not classified as quakes, California and Baja Mexico are going through business as usual, with no indications or features that will allow any reliable predictions of future quakes and aftershocks. In other words, it is officially not known if or when “the big one” is coming.