Well it wasn’t the ‘big one’ that Californians have long been expecting, in fact yesterday’s early morning earthquakes centered near Bonelli Park in La Verne and Pomona were relatively small tremors and of very short duration when compared to the Northridge quakes of 71 and 94, the Whittier quake of 87 or the Big Bear quake of 92. All of which were 6.0 – 6.7 magnitude. No, the La Verne quakes were relatively small. What made this event news worthy was not the magnitude but the fact that it was a series of quakes that struck within a half hour period and were less than a mile from the surface. The first quake to hit, a foreshock, was a magnitude 3.7 and struck at 4:43 a.m. about one mile southwest of La Verne. The second quake, a 1.5, struck at 4:53, followed by a magnitude 3.8 at 5:06 a.m. One minute later a 1.8 aftershock struck. Fortunately all four quakes were of relatively short duration.
Interestingly only the two larger quakes were deemed newsworthy. I suppose the news media doesn’t want to alarm anyone. (yeah right!) Actually there have been 9 quakes in the La Verne/Pomona area over the last 24 hours. Sounds like a lot doesn’t it? It does to me. Well how about the fact that there have been 22 earthquakes in the same area in the past 7 days and 52 in the past month! Sure, most of the quakes have been 2.0 magnitude or less but in my book anytime the earth move, regardless of how slight, it’s cause for concern.
52 quakes in a month in the same given area, all close to the surface rather than deep within the Earth. Is that a cause for concern? Is the Earth trying to warn us about an impending quake? We all know that we’re overdue for a large quake, could it be that the ‘big one’ is drawing near? Or is this seismic activity just a natural everyday occurrence? Minor earthquakes occur nearly constantly around the world so perhaps these La Verne quakes are nothing more than earthquake clusters or swarms and are not precursors to anything other than more minor tremors. Guess we’ll find out.
Earthquakes are serious business and can be quite deadly as we’ve seen time and again but earthquakes have become a way of life for many Californians. They take quakes in stride and barely pay any attention to them at all unless they are magnitude 5 or greater. Others live each day in fear of the ‘big one’. And I mean FEAR! You can’t live in So Cal with an obsessive fear of quakes. You can’t walk down the street worried that at any moment the ‘big one’ will hit and the earth will shake, rattle and roll. You can’t be worried that the Earth will rupture and crack and swallow you up or that maybe a building, tree or power line will fall on you. You just can’t do it. You can’t be afraid of something that hasn’t happened yet and may not happen for years to come. There’s still no truly accurate way of predicting when or where a quake may hit. Face it, we live in an earthquake zone friends, get used to it or get outta the state.
Of course fear is a natural reaction and a healthy dose of fear can help keep us out of harms way. However when fear becomes obsessive it can be problematic. Continued focus on the object of our fear makes fear stronger and stronger until it begins to affect our quality of life in adverse ways. This excessive fear can develop into a phobia which is simply the product of faulty thinking. It’s pretty sad when the thing you fear most is something you cant’ see coming. With earthquakes you just never know.
The Earth is in a constant state of change and earthquakes are a part of that change, we have to accept that. We have to learn to face our fear, because in a real disaster the ability to deal with the object of our fear just might keep us alive…
“If a disaster occurs, the best possible response is calmness. When people are calm, they can react safely, because things around them are moving slowly. Anxiety is what puts people in danger. Individuals that panic often freeze, which is far more harmful than getting to safety.” Janis Ericson