Small Earthquake Strikes California
Map of earthquake location today (Jan. 24, 2013) in central California.
Credit: USGS.

A small earthquake of preliminary magnitude 4.0 struck early today near Lake Tahoe, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The temblor's epicenter was 32 miles (52 km) southeast of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., and 42 miles (68 km) south of Carson City, Nev. It originated 8.1 miles (13.1 km) deep and struck at 12:21 a.m. (0821 UTC), the USGS reports. Some weak shaking was felt in the surrounding area.

Earthquakes of this size typically do not cause significant damage, other than possibly broken windows and falling dishes or the toppling of unstable objects. But the damage caused by any single event depends on the quake's depth, proximity to populated areas, building standards in the region, as well as the type of earthquake. The USGS frequently updates the magnitude of an event after more data is analyzed.

An earthquake's magnitude is a measure of the energy released at the source. It is just one predictor of the shaking that may ensue, which is affected by local and regional geology. Scientists know in a general sense what causes Earthquakes but are unable to predict specific quakes.

This article will be updated if significant additional information becomes available. Find more earthquake news here.