M 6.9 Earthquake, 77km WNW of Ferndale, California
COMMENT: Late night earthquake off the Northern California coast on Sunday at 10:18pm (system) or 9:18pm (local) Pacific time. Opportunity here to educate and point out a few things about earthquakes in and around California, and especially in Northern California with the threat of tsunamis under certain conditions.
Everyone knows California is prone to and is expecting “the big one” to occur at whatever point in the future. Some people actually know the major faultline running through California is the San Andreas Fault Line, stretching from Southern California border region, through the Salton Sea, through Los Angeles County north to San Francisco Bay Area’s peninsula, then right along the coastline north to the Eureka area, and then turns west into the Pacific Ocean. There is another faultline (see graphic) that intersects the San Andreas Fault Line in the Pacific Ocean. This is the area of concern, because this intersection in the Pacific Ocean is where three continental plates converge — North American plate (east), Pacific plate (west), and the smaller Juan de Fuca plate (north) covering Oregon and Washington coasts.
The blue large circle (see graphic) is the M6.9 earthquake located 40.829°N 125.134°W or west of the red line separating the Juan de Fuca plate from the Pacific plate. Not far from the intersection of the three continental plates. Although the USGS or United States Geological Service reported no tsunami from this earthquake event, the threat of tsunamis is always on the minds of residents in this part of California. For example, the last tsunami that hit this region — the 2010 Eureka earthquake — occurred on January 9, 2010, when a M6.5 earthquake struck not far from the current M6.9 earthquake location, the ensuing tsunami resulted in structural damages, PG&E power loss and no telephone service.
One point of concern when situations like this occur is the isolation of this region in California. Because Humboldt County is less populated and in the extreme north of the State, this region rarely gets the kind of media attention as the more populated San Francisco and Los Angeles regions receive on a daily basis. No doubt this is part of the reason several attempts at secession from California by Northern California counties have occurred, including the most recent one in 2014 for splitting California into six states. Nevertheless, it behooves us here in California to pay attention and not forget that natural events can have a major impact.