Rock slide on Route 178
A rock slide on Route 178 through the Kern River Canyon after the 7.1-magnitude quake on Friday. Courtesy CHP

This week’s back-to-back quakes are not likely to trigger “The Big One” in Southern California, according to scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The two earthquakes that hit near Ridgecrest, a magnitude 6.4 quake on Thursday and a larger 7.1 temblor on Friday, were about 60 miles north of the San Andreas fault. Two Scripps seismologists tried to ease public concerns that the two quakes could trigger a catastrophic temblor on the southern San Andreas Fault.

“We’ve had large earthquakes — like the Landers and Hector Mine events — that occurred much, much closer to the San Andreas and didn’t set if off,” said seismologis Frank Vernon, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

“So we don’t believe that what happened over the past couple of days (in Ridgecrest) will affect the San Andreas,” he said.

The “Big One” refers to a 7.9 or larger quake that would rupture the San Andreas from Bombay Beach at the Salton Sea to the Cajon Pass and possibly all the way to Parkfield, in central California.

Scientists are trying to better understand the Ridgecrest earthquakes, which occurred fairly close to the surface, generating shaking that was felt throughout Southern California, including San Diego.

“These two quakes were definitely connected,” said Debi Kilb, another Scripps seismologist. They involved two separate faults, the larger fault running perpendicular to the smaller one, forming a T-shaped pattern, she said.

“We’re really lucky that these big quakes occurred in a remote place instead of an urban area, where they would have caused much more damage,” Kilb said.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.