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Spate of Ocotillo Wells Quakes 'Not Surprising': Geologist

A series of earthquakes in Ocotillo Wells over the weekend rattled the nerves of people living near California’s major fault lines but a local expert says the recent cluster of quakes is normal.

Ocotillo Wells was struck by four minor earthquakes within an hour Saturday evening, the largest being a 3.5-magnitude. Small temblors continued Sunday. 

The quakes 70 miles east of Escondido and about 60 miles south of Indio, near the Salton Sea, were strong enough to be felt as far away as Poway, according to data gathered by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). 

San Diego State Geological Scientist Dr. Pat Abbott told NBC 7 the quakes were relatively normal to the area. 

“It’s quite a cluster of earthquakes,” Abbott said. “It’s one of the most earthquake-active areas in California so the area itself is not surprising.”

Overall movement along fault lines is a good thing; what is more concerning to geologists are the areas not experiencing quakes, Abbott said. 

“What we are really concerned about is the San Andreas [Fault]. San Andreas hasn’t had any movement in the area since the 1690’s.”

Another fault line without much activity is the Rose Canyon Fault stretching into La Jolla and Del Mar.

“If that all ruptures at once, like it very well might, that should yield a magnitude 6.9 earthquake,” Abbott said. “And not only would everyone feel that one, I am sorry to say that is going to cause significant damage.”

Source: NBC San Diego

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