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Small Earthquake Strikes Off California Coast

earthquake map
Map of earthquake location today (Feb. 6, 2014) off the coast of California. (Image credit: USGS.)

An earthquake of preliminary magnitude 4.2 struck just off the coast of California today, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The earthquake's epicenter was 9 miles (15 km) south-southwest of San Simeon, Calif., and 26 miles (42 km) west-northwest of Morro Bay, Calif. It originated 2.2 miles (3.5 km) deep and struck at 11:42 a.m. Thursday local time (19:42 UTC), the USGS reports.

Residents reported some light shaking in the area, according to the USGS.

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.

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

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Live Science Staff
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