5.1 magnitude earthquake rattles the Silicon Valley and the rest of the Bay Area

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An earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale shook the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Jose and the Silicon Valley, on Tuesday, triggering alerts on tens of thousands of cell phones.

Despite widespread tremors in a region home to nearly 5 million people, there were no immediate reports of injuries or significant damage.

Lucy Jones, the retired US Geological Survey seismologist, said it was the Bay Area’s largest earthquake in 15 years. She told NBC Bay Area it was followed by 3.1 and 2.2 aftershocks.

The 11:42 am earthquake struck the foothills 12 miles east of San Jose, the Bay Area’s largest city, the USGS reported. The depth was measured at about 4 miles.

An estimated 95,000 people who signed up for an earthquake warning system received a ShakeAlert message, most getting it on their cell phones seconds before the ground shook, California Office of Emergency Management and USGS officials said.

That number represents the wireless carriers that reported their users’ alarm numbers so far Tuesday, officials said. The figure would likely increase significantly as other providers move along, said USGS ShakeAlert outreach coordinator Robert de Groot.

“People had several seconds of warning time before the shaking started in some locations,” he said.

In San Francisco, about 80 miles to the north, some cell phone users had 18 seconds between the alarm and the shaking, according to Cal OES.

The warning time depends on distance, with those closest to an earthquake getting little or no warning and those furthest away receiving warnings that can exceed an earthquake’s wave by as much as two minutes.

As the quake crossed a threshold of 5.0, the alerts went out through the federally operated Wireless Emergency Alerts system.

The ShakeAlert system is fully operational in California, Oregon and Washington and can reach more than 50 million people, De Groot said.

Californians as far away as Sacramento and Fresno reported feeling Tuesday’s quake.

Cal OES officials coordinated with Bay Area first responders to assess injuries and damage, the office said. The San Jose Fire Department said it has not received any emergency calls for help or service related to the shaker.

“Under SJFD’s #Earthquake Policy, firefighters monitor personnel, survey their immediate response area, and inspect stations and equipment to ensure they are ready to respond to any emergencies,” the department said. tweeted.

The Valley Transportation Authority in Santa Clara County, where the quake struck, said car and rail inspections caused a brief 5-minute delay in train service. No injuries or damage were reported and service was back on schedule, it said.

Bay Area Rapid Transit, which serves San Francisco, the East Bay and other communities, implemented its own 5-minute delay to facilitate inspections, but warned that “major delays” were also possible.

Jones said Tuesday’s earthquake likely occurred along the Calaveras Fault, which was home to the region’s last major earthquake, Oct. 30, 2007’s Alum Rock earthquake, which measured 5.4 and caused a 3-mile surface fracture.

The Calaveras Fault is part of a system of colliding plates ruled by the state’s most feared geologic feature, the San Andreas Fault, which runs parallel to the coast along most of California and is estimated to be capable of to produce an 8.2 magnitude shaker.

However, Jones said the Calaveras fault is best known for producing moderate earthquakes like Tuesday’s.

“The Calaveras fault is one that tends to have smaller earthquakes,” said the Caltech visiting professor. “It’s something that pops out more often with 5s than the other faults. It doesn’t accumulate much slip [energy]but it does have the capacity for bigger.”

The Associated Press contributed.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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