Moderate Earthquake Hits California
The location of a small earthquake that struck California on Dec. 23, 2013.
Credit: USGS

An earthquake of preliminary magnitude 4.7 struck eastern-central California today, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The earthquake's epicenter was 32 miles (51 km) south of Lone Pine, Calif., and 42 miles (67 km) north-northwest of Ridgecrest, Calif. It originated 0.1 miles (0.1 km) deep and struck at 5:39 a.m. Monday morning local time (13:39 UTC), followed by at least four small aftershocks, the USGS reports.

Residents reported some light shaking in the area, according to the USGS, but there were no immediate reports of damage.

Earthquakes of this size tend to be felt by people in the area but 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.

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