LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A team of scientists and researchers from Southern California spent a week documenting the damage caused by a pair of strong earthquakes near Ridgecrest last month — and now they’re sharing some of what they saw.
In photos from the team, it’s clear to see the impact of the quakes — cracks can be seen in the earth, roads are split in two, sidewalks have broken and homes left tilted.
The first of the strong quakes — a 6.4-magnitude temblor — hit around 10:30 a.m. July 4. That was when University of California Los Angeles professor Jonathan Stewart’s team headed out, making the 150-mile journey north into Kern County. The team is used to traveling across the world to study earthquakes.
While they were in Kern studying the first quake, a second, stronger one hit. The July 5 quake hit just after 8 p.m. with a magnitude of 7.1. Stewart said the second quake nearly knocked him over. Most of the damage his team found was on the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake.
“I saw electrical lines arcing and sending off sparks near our hotel. I saw people running out of the building, obviously panicked and really upset,” he said. “It was truly extraordinary from this earthquake. We had rupture from the initial July 4 earthquake and separate rupture on July 5.”
Stewart said the quakes happened on two different faults, and his team will use the data they collected to build models to map how the ground would likely react in future earthquakes and get a better sense of the nature of ruptures.
The damage from these quakes is already in the billions, and the aftershocks are continuing. Just last week, a 5.0-magnitude temblor struck near Ridgecrest.