An earthquake on the eastern range of California?s Sierra Nevada shook several remote communities on Tuesday afternoon, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, authorities said.
ABC News reported that the magnitude 4.8 quake struck just after 3 p.m. near the community of Big Pine in central California along the scenic US Route 395. The initial jolt was followed by a series of six aftershocks for over more than an hour, the largest of which was a magnitude 4.3, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). Residents in Sacramento, Livermore, Fresno, Bakersfield, Los Angeles and across the state line in Nevada reported feeling the ground shaking.
The quake was “high up there, even for California standards,” said Rafael Abreu, a geophysicist of the USGS Earthquake Information Center in Colorado. In the last 10 days, there have been two earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 nearby. The earthquake has raked up the fears of a major earthquake hitting California as predicted by scientists last year.
Geophysicists at NASA?s Jet Propulsion Lab had said last December that there is a 99 percent probability that a major earthquake will rock California within the next two-and-a-half years. JPL scientists who have been using radar and GPS technology to monitor tectonic movements believe that an earthquake measuring more than 5.0 on the Richter scale will likely strike Southern California.
Dr. Andrea Donnellan, geophysicist at NASA?s JPL, has been leading a team of seven other scientists in the efforts to narrow down the when and where of California?s next moderately-sized earthquake. Donnellan and his team predicted there is enough energy stored in the upper sediments of the L.A. basin to ?produce about a magnitude 6.1 to 6.3 earthquake.?
Using computer modeling, they indicated a 99-percent probability of a magnitude 5.0 or stronger quake in the next three years for the 60-mile radius of the LA area.
Further fueling the fears of a huge earthquake are forecasts by US Geological Survey that predicted a major earthquake will rock California in the next 30 years. Scientists recalculated the risk of a mega quake after taking into consideration the possibility that several faults can shake at the same time and release seismic energy that would result in more devastation. JPL prediction lines up with forecasts from USGS seismologists in terms of location and potential strength of the next big quake, but the two teams differ when it comes to the timeline.
The chances of a mega, magnitude-8 quake hitting the coastal state jumped to 7 percent, up from 4.7 percent based on past estimations. That?s a small figure, which pales in comparison to the greater than 99 percent chance that California will be shaken by a magnitude-6.7 quake, similar in strength to the 1994 Northridge tragedy. Also, they added that there is a 93 percent chance of a magnitude 7 or stronger earthquake occurring over the same period and a 48 percent chance of a magnitude 7.5, similar to previous estimates.