Every year, there are about 500,000 earthquakes – 100,000 of which can be felt on the Earth’s surface. But how do earthquakes work? We explain.


LOS ANGELES — In a region already reeling from wildfires and smoke-filled skies, a moderate earthquake jolted Southern California late Friday.

The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 4.5, the U.S. Geological Service reported. It jangled nerves, but no injuries or damage were immediately reported.

The quake was centered in the city of South El Monte in the San Gabriel Valley, east of downtown Los Angeles.  It struck at about 11:40 p.m. PST. The quake was felt as far away as Palm Springs, about 80 miles east.

Near Los Angeles International Airport, the quake produced a rolling motion that lasted about 10 seconds. Crews are thoroughly checking the airfield and terminal, though they had not found any damage, according to Los Angeles World Airports.

Southern California has been known as prone to earthquakes, but greater Los Angeles hasn’t seen a large, damaging quake for more than two decades. 

A seismologist who closely watches the Los Angeles basin, Lucy Jones, took to Twitter and said that the temblor’s epicenter was in basically the same location as the 5.9 Whittier Narrows quake in 1987 that caused extensive damage.

“Still getting everything processed, but it was a pretty good jolt here in Pasadena,” she tweeted.

Jesus Lucatero, a 37-year-old surgery coordinator, expressed a bit of humor after the quake rattled Whittier, California,  home. 

“The earthquake woke me up and I usually sleep through quakes,” Lucatero told USA TODAY. “I’m one White Walker invasion away from winning my 2020 bing0 card.”

In a tweet, the Los Angeles Fire Department asked people to prepare for aftershocks. 

Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas tweeted that the department “is in Earthquake Mode, with all 106 Neighborhood Fire Stations checking their areas for damage.”

The Los Angeles Police Department asked residents to only call 911 for emergencies.

Contributing: Maria Sestito and Shane Newell, The (Palm Springs) Desert Sun; Charles Ventura, USA TODAY

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