[REGIONAL NEWS] Ridgecrest earthquake packed the power of 45 nuclear bombs, but its impact was muted

A house fire broke out after an earthquake in Ridgecrest, California, on Thursday morning./abc7News

Impact from 7.1 quake (Los Angeles Times)

By Rong –Gong Lin | San Diego Union-Tribune 

When the magnitude 7.1 earthquake ruptured the earth in the Mojave Desert, it packed the energy of 45 nuclear bombs of the type that fell on Hiroshima.

But a variety of factors lessened the potency and impact of what was the most powerful Southern California earthquake in nearly two decades.

The massive temblor, it’s important to note, ruptured on a fault whose northwest-southeast direction pushed the worst shaking away from populated areas.

The area Ridgecrest sits in is riddled with faults — in the Eastern California Shear Zone — that have produced some of the state’s biggest quakes in the modern record, like the magnitude 7.5 Owens Valley earthquake of 1872 and the magnitude 7.3 Landers earthquake in 1992.

But this particular fault packed its biggest punch either toward the Sequoia National Forest to the northwest or largely uninhabited expanses of the Mojave Desert. The most populated area that got the worst shaking was Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, which was right on top of the fault rupture and saw damage to its elementary school.


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