Ridgecrest Earthquake: Potential Landslides After California Struck by Magnitude 4.0 Quake

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has recorded an earthquake at Ridgecrest, California, 13 kilometers southwest of Searles Valley.

The earthquake, which was magnitude 4.0, was logged at 8:46 p.m. PST and had a depth of 8.8 kilometers. According to the USGS shake report, the earthquake was felt mildly at the epicenter and approximately 60 kilometers out.

The USGS impact report shows that shaking-related fatalities and economic losses are on green alert, meaning there is a low likelihood of casualties and damage.

It also reports that the population in the region resides in structures that are resistant to earthquake shaking, though some vulnerable structures do exist. These buildings would be unreinforced brick masonry and reinforced masonry construction, according to USGS.

The graphic from USGS shows that the earthquake rates between weak and moderate on the Shake Map. USGS

For secondary effects, recent quakes in the area have caused hazards such as landslides and liquefaction, which might have contributed to losses.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), these are some of the signs that a landslide is imminent:

  • Changes occur in your landscape such as patterns of storm-water drainage on slopes (especially the places where runoff water converges) land movement, small slides, flows, or progressively leaning trees
  • Doors or windows stick or jam for the first time
  • New cracks appear in plaster, tile, brick, or foundations
  • Outside walls, walks, or stairs begin pulling away from the building
  • Slowly developing, widening cracks appear on the ground or on paved areas such as streets or driveways
  • Underground utility lines break
  • Bulging ground appears at the base of a slope
  • Water breaks through the ground surface in new locations
  • Fences, retaining walls, utility poles, or trees tilt or move
  • A faint rumbling sound that increases in volume is noticeable as the landslide nears
  • The ground slopes downward in one direction and may begin shifting in that direction under your feet
  • Unusual sounds, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together, might indicate moving debris
  • Collapsed pavement, mud, fallen rocks, and other indications of possible debris flow can be seen when driving (embankments along roadsides are particularly susceptible to landslides)

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), a heatwave is forecast to hit the southwest of the U.S. making rocks, canyons, and dry land susceptible to cracking.

The weather forecast says that "sizzling temperatures" will continue in the Desert Southwest and show "no signs of backing down through the first half of the week." Forecast highs are in the 80s Fahrenheit (F).