LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Four large earthquakes struck around the Pacific Rim Wednesday with one setting a record, as the most powerful strike-slip quake ever recorded.
Geologists have nicknamed the Pacific Rim the “ring of fire” because of frequent volcanic and seismic activity.
The rash of earthquakes sent shock waves of concern across the globe.
Two giant quakes struck in Indonesia, one measuring a magnitude of 8.6. People were seen running in fear.
Closer to Southern California, two more earthquakes hit — a 6.5 in Mexico, where buildings rocked and shook, and a 5.9 off the Oregon coast.
Local scientists said that although the cluster of quakes may make us sit up and take notice, we should not be overly alarmed.
“One thing that happens when we have a lot of earthquakes in the news, everybody goes ‘Does that mean I’m going to have an earthquake?’ And the reality is it is essentially random and you haven’t changed your chance of having an earthquake,” said Lucy Jones of the USGS.
While most earthquakes are located along the ring of fire — an area along the basin of the Pacific Ocean — Jones said that Wednesday’s earthquakes were on entirely different plates.
“The ring of fire has no relationship at all to these earthquakes. The ring of fire is an old term before we understood plate tectonics,” she explained.
But scientists did say that the seismic activity was unusual. They said the two quakes in Indonesia were on strike-slip faults, the same type we have in California.
An 8.6 magnitude on a strike-slip had never been recorded before Wednesday’s, according to scientists.
“And now we have this 8.6 off of that interface out in the ocean floor and that’s really — I mean it’s shocking actually,” said Thomas Heaton with CALTECH.
The quakes on our continent did not do serious damage, but experts said that it was a reminder to always be prepared.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a typical day in California. We live in earthquake country and you’ve got to be ready,” Heaton said.