A Los Angeles earthquake that struck the city on Friday may have been the precursor to a giant quake, scientists warned.
The 5.1 magnitude quake that struck on Friday caused scattered damage around Los Angeles, closing down Disneyland briefly and stretching as far as San Diego. The initial Los Angeles earthquake was followed by more than 100 aftershocks, including one on Saturday that measured a 4.1 magnitude.
While seismologists say that aftershocks are common after an earthquake, they warn there is a 5 percent chance that Friday’s earthquake is actually a foreshock to a bigger and more damaging earthquake.
This is not the first time that a Los Angeles earthquake has been seen as a preview to a larger event. A March 17 quake that measured a 4.4 magnitude was seen as a possible foreshock to a larger quake.
At the time the earthquake was the largest to strike Los Angeles since a 5.5 earthquake hit Chino Hills in 2008.
“Always the possibility that it’s a foreshock,” warned Robert Graves, a U.S. Geological Survey seismologist.
Graves also said “we’re continuing to analyze the data, but at this point, this seems to be what I would call a rather typical earthquake.”
Not everyone seemed worried this time, however. Doug Given, a USGS geophysicist, said Friday’s earthquake was unusual because of how many people felt it but overall wasn’t particularly large.
“These quakes occur in populated areas and people try to put two and two together and predict that something more is coming, but that’s simply not the case,” he said.
If the Los Angeles earthquake was a foreshock, then the city could be in imminent danger of another quake striking soon. Seismologists say that if a larger earthquake is to happen, it would be within several hours of the foreshock.