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{{Earthquake|title1 = Salton Sea Earthquake|image1 = 91FB99D5-7BCC-493B-B8B6-626E54D441F9.jpeg|caption1 = An intensity map displaying the shaking distribution throughout Southern California.|date = Sunday, June 21st, 2024|time = 10:23 A.M. PDT|magnitude = 8.2 (Mw)|depth = 4.7 miles|type = Transform|maximum_intensity = X-XI (Extreme shaking)|areas_affected = Southern/Central California, Nevada, and Arizona|damage = Very heavy/Extreme|foreshocks = 6 (See subheading for more information)|aftershocks = 4,824 (As of June 2025)|injuries = Approximately 5,700|casualties = About 1,800}}



Overview 

After much warning from seismologists all over the world for decades, Friday, June 21st, 2024 was the day that the San Andreas fault finally ruptured and caused an unprecedented amount of destruction. Damage was near total in heavily-populated areas in Southern California, such as Los Angeles. The Salton Sea earthquake received its name because it was where the San Andreas began rupturing.

Magnitude and Intensity

The magnitude 8.2 earthquake (also called “The Big One”) occurred at 10:23 A.M. PDT and had an estimated intensity of X-XI (Extreme). Well-built structures experienced severe to total damage. Mobile homes were completely demolished, and no loose objects remained standing. This quake was 2.5-2.6x more powerful on the Moment Magnitude scale than the magnitude 7.8 San Francisco earthquake of 1906. It lasted for 2 minutes and 23 seconds.

Foreshocks

The Salton Sea earthquake was the product of 6 foreshocks, all of which were on the San Andreas fault and were centered near Moreno Valley (heading south with each quake, eventually leading to the Salton Sea as the epicenter of the mainshock). The foreshocks are listed below:

- The first one was a 2.3 magnitude at 3:24 A.M. PDT on June 20 2024. The intensity was rated at I (not felt).

- Next came a 3.8 magnitude at 4:12 A.M. PDT on the same day. Its maximum shaking intensity was III/Weak shaking.

- After a couple hours, a 4.1 magnitude hit at 9:32 A.M. PDT on the same day with intensity IV (Light shaking).

- That same day at 10:41 P.M., many were awoken to a 5.3 magnitude temblor with an intensity of VI (Strong shaking). Minor damage followed. Several aftershocks followed this, the largest being a 3.9.

- The next day at 6:21 A.M., lots of people were unsettled after being woken up to a magnitude 6.1 (Intensity VII/Very strong shaking) of which the largest aftershock was a 4.7. This lasted for 12 seconds, and at this point, many were worried that yet another earthquake would disturb their daily routine. Moderate damage was discovered, with many people proceeding to stock up on food and water after seismologists warned about these foreshocks being on the San Andreas fault and the possibility of an even larger quake.

- The final foreshock before the mainshock was measured at magnitude 6.8 at 9:57 A.M. with a maximum intensity of IX/Violent. Considerable damage resulted from this, and the largest aftershock recorded had a magnitude of 5.4. At this point, power outages had already begun and many were worried about the hypothetical Big One. Panic had begun, and stores had become flooded with people trying to stock up on more items for their earthquake kits.

Aftershocks

The Salton Sea quake had a remarkable amount and rather energetic series of aftershocks, with a total of 4,824. 874 had a magnitude of 2.5 or higher, 682 of magnitude 3.5 or higher, and 432 of magnitude 4.0 or higher. At least 7 aftershocks had magnitude 6.0 or higher. The largest aftershock had a magnitude of 7.3 (Intensity IX/Violent), and after all of these aftershocks, many buildings were severely weakened, shifted off of foundations, and sometimes even completely demolished. Aftershocks continued for years, but most of the aftershocks occurred in the first week after the main shock.

Death Toll and Injuries

The death toll has been estimated at approximately 1,800 with about 5,700 injuries. These were all caused by the earthquake after-effects.

Early Warning Systems

Early warning systems, which have been in development for years, succeeded in providing valuable seconds to residents throughout Southern California. Locations near the Salton Sea received 5-10 seconds of a warning, while Los Angeles and cities around it received 30-60 seconds.

After-Effects

Power outages were widespread due to the intensity of the quake. They lasted from 1-2 weeks, depending on the location. Food and water shortages also proved an issue for Californians without earthquake kits.

This earthquake also increased stress on nearby faults that produced other earthquakes with ranging intensity and magnitudes. For instance, the Garlock Fault produced an 8.1 magnitude earthquake in January 2025, devastating the still-recovering LA and Southern California areas. It was confirmed that the Garlock fault ruptured as a result of this quake.

Other

In the year 2022, the Cascadia fault let out a massive 9.3 magnitude earthquake that devastated Portland, Seattle, and Northern California. Seismologists confirmed that the two major earthquakes were not related.

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