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Swarm of Earthquakes strike near Salton Sea, largest a magnitude 5.3

A series of earthquakes were reported Saturday morning in an area southeast of the Salton Sea, near Calipatria. A preliminary magnitude 5.3 earthquake jolted Imperial County according to the United States Geological Survey.

The largest of the quakes hit at 10:55 a.m. Saturday about 6 miles west of Calipatria, a small town near the Salton Sea, the USGS said. A clerk at a Calipatria truck stop said everything was up and running, although some products in the store fell off shelves.

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News Channel 3 viewers in Coachella, Indio, and Cathedral City have reported feeling the quake, one saying it was "rolling."

Mecca resident Axel Herrera felt "a big shake in the beginning," but said after a couple seconds "it went away."

"We were at the casino. I texted my husband, 'Hey I think there’s an earthquake right now," said Antonia Cereceres who was at Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella when she felt shaking.

Within 24 hours the USGS reported more than 65 earthquakes at a magnitude of 2.5 or larger.

"I was working for my company and then I felt it shaking and it was moving really, swaying a lot," said Indio resident Vanessa Cordero, who was working in Palm Desert when she felt the shaking.

One viewer also sent video into News Channel 3 of a swaying chandelier.

It was unclear as of Saturday which fault caused the temblors.

"With earthquakes this small we’re not sure if we'll see actual ruptures at the surface. If we do end up finding a rupture at the surface then we can positively say it’s at what fault or another," research geophysicist for USGS, Morgan Page said.

Page said when there are these types of swarms, it's typical to see activity last from a day to a week. The epicenter of the swarm was located in what is known as the Brawley Seismic Zone. With the earthquakes being so close to the San Andreas fault Page said it was still far enough to not cause too much concern.

"It is better from a hazard perspective and it’s farther away from the San Andreas fault so we would be more worried if it was say right close to the end of the San Andreas fault. We sometimes do have swarms that are closer so it slightly increases the probability of an earthquake on that fault but I wouldn’t say it’s a huge increase on the probability just because it is about 15 miles away," Page said.

The epicenter could be seen below the San Andreas fault and above the Imperial fault. While the chances of the activity impacting the San Andreas fault are low, Page said there is currently a possibility for an aftershock of a similar magnitude.

"Right now there’s an aftershock forecast out for this event that puts the chance of another magnitude 5 event this week at about 20 percent, so it's not certain but it could happen," Page said.

The same exact area is common for earthquakes swarms, with the last being in 2005, according to USGS.

There have been recent swarms of quakes around that area, including in January and February of this year.

Last October, an earthquake swarm near Salton Sea raised concerns. News Channel 3 spoke with expert Dr. Lucy Jones about it.

At that time, seismologist expert Dr. Lucy Jones explained this is very common for that area and aftershocks could last for a month in Imperial County increasing the probability for a larger one.

"The chance of a 5… 5 plus at the same location where this swarm is going on is relatively high," said Dr. Jones.

Dr. Jones said its less likely to impact the San Andreas Fault, its too far away.

"None of us are looking at the San Andreas as a likely trigger point on this," said Jones.

WATCH: Swarm earthquakes in Imperial County not expected to impact San Andreas Fault says Dr. Lucy Jones

https://youtu.be/7rTOsNJFGGo


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Watch more about The Salton Sea

Troubled Waters: The Salton Sea Project

https://youtu.be/siMbZNdvUUI
California / Earthquake Alert / Local News / Top Stories / Video

KESQ News Team

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