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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Southern California

One Fault Line Could Have A Major Impact On L.A. During A Big Quake

The Newport-Inglewood fault has been deadly before. ATVN's Eric Ruble reports.

Two earthquakes centered in Baldwin Hills were felt across the Los Angeles Basin on Sunday. The first quake hit shortly after 4:30 p.m., followed by a larger 3.3 magnitude tremor at 9:17 in the evening. Residents in the Baldwin Hills and Inglewood areas said it felt like a sharp jolt.

"The whole house shook," said William Green, who was visiting a friend when the quake hit.

"I was drifting off, and then I felt this shake, and I thought, this must be an earthquake," said Dorothy Simpson, who lives near LAX.

The quake occurred on the Newport-Inglewood fault line, which is relatively inactive compared to the San Andreas fault. But its location in a dense urban corridor means that it still presents a threat. 

"Because it's right underneath Los Angeles, the damage from a Newport-Inglewood Fault earthquake could be higher in Los Angeles than from a San Andreas earthquake," said Mark Benthien of the Southern California Earthquake Center at USC.

"[Pressure] builds up strain over a longer period of time and it takes longer between earthquakes. Every couple thousand years, having a big earthquake, as opposed to every couple hundred years on the San Andreas," he added.

City officials in Inglewood said the quakes should remind people of the possibility of a bigger quake in the near future.

"We want to make sure that people's homes are safe, that they know how to turn off their water and turn off their gas, and that they know who their neighbors are so they can check on them in the event of a disaster," said Inglewood Assistant City Manager Michael Falcow.

Sunday's quakes were hardly the first to occur on the Newport-Inglewood fault. The most recent destructive quake on that faultline was the 6.4 Long Beach Earthquake, which killed 120 people.

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