A moderate earthquake centered about 200 miles east of Sacramento early Wednesday shook area residents out of their slumber, caused them to question their sobriety and generally rattled their nerves.
Still, others slept right through it. The California Office of Emergency Service reported that there were no serious injuries or damages.
The epicenter of the series of earthquakes was in Hawthorne, Nev., near the California border. The biggest shaking occurred from a little after midnight until a little after 1 a.m., according to the United States Geological Survey.
The strongest quakes came in at 5.7 magnitude at 12:18 a.m., 5.7 at 12:22 a.m. and 5.5 at 1:13 a.m. Other aftershocks registered smaller readings.
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Tim McCrink, supervising engineering geologist at the California Geological Survey, said the quakes were not associated with any particular fault line. The Hawthorne earthquake is also not related to the magnitude 6.5 quake that struck 100 miles off the California coast from Ferndale earlier in December.
“They are in a very different geologic province of California and caused by different tectonic stresses,” McCrink wrote by e-mail.
McCrink said the Hawthorne quakes appear to be typical of what has occurred in this area in the past. There have been a small number of magnitude 5 earthquakes in the immediate area in 1955 and 1956, and one magnitude 6 in 2011.
“We should expect the immediate area to rumble along with aftershocks with magnitudes 1 to 4 for a few weeks to maybe months,” McCrink said. “Past earthquake sequences have shown that as time goes by in the first few days after an earthquake the chances of earthquakes with similar or larger magnitudes drops off significantly.”
Northern California residents took to social media to tell others that an earthquake was occurring or to find reassurance that what they were feeling was a temblor. From Camino, Marysville, Sacramento, Roseville, West Sacramento and other locations residents were shaken and then stirred from their beds to tweet, write on Facebook and post to Reddit.
A Rocklin resident noticed his chair was moving and thought his dog was the reason for it. In Gold River, a resident posted on Reddit that she thought the wine was the reason for the instability.
In downtown Sacramento, people felt the shake on second and third floors. On the National Weather Service Sacramento Office website, Stefanie Hansen in Volcano wrote:
“Thought I was crazy, the dog didn’t move at all and I woke up 3 different times!”
Bodie State Historic Park, just over the state line from the epicenter in California, was temporarily closed Wednesday so that officials could check for any damage to structures in the gold-mining ghost town. Tourists who visit the town walk down deserted streets framed with decaying wood-sided and brick homes and businesses or take tours of the stamp mill where gold was extracted from quartz.