If you live in Fontana, you wouldn’t be blamed if you felt a case of the jitters.
A swarm of earthquakes has shown remarkable staying power in the area around the Southern California city. Caltech seismologist Egill Hauksson said the chance that the series of tremors will turn into a large and destructive quake isn’t particularly high.
But that doesn’t mean residents shouldn’t be on their toes. The likelihood of a larger seismic event, given how many quakes that have occurred over such an extended period, is higher than normal, the scientist said.
“People ought to be concerned,” said Hauksson. “This is probably the most prolific swarm in that area of the Fontana seismic zone that we’ve seen in the past three decades.”
There have been more than 700 earthquakes recorded in the Fontana area since May 25, ranging from magnitude 0.7 to magnitude 3.2, recorded Wednesday at 5:20 p.m., according to Caltech staff seismologist Jen Andrews. Three of the quakes have been of magnitude 3 or greater.
The swarm initially moved northward, but something unusual began Friday when the swarm turned around and went south, back toward the middle of the activity and the 60 Freeway.
“This is somewhat of an unexpected evolution,” Hauksson said. Furthermore, an analysis of the earthquakes shows that activity is fading pretty slowly — slower than would be expected for a typical sequence of aftershocks following a main shock, he said.
“That would suggest it’s going to continue for — I don’t know — at least several weeks,” Hauksson said. “We’re watching what’s happening and trying to track that activity.”
Hauksson said that, given all the seismic activity, residents should be ready and make sure to store “plenty of water, make sure there’s nothing that can fall on them.”
In any home in seismically risky areas of California, experts recommend removing heavy objects around beds, strapping bookcases and dressers to walls, anchoring flat-screen televisions to walls, installing toddler safety latches on kitchen cabinets, and ensuring picture frames are attached to walls with quake-friendly hooks. The last fatality in a California earthquake was from a blow to the head from an unstrapped television.
Homeowners should also make sure their water heaters are properly secured to reduce the chance of a house fire. Homes that sit a few steps off the ground and built before 1979 should be evaluated by a structural engineer to determine whether they need to be braced and boltedto the foundation to prevent them from sliding off when shaken. Apartment owners with carports or garages on the ground floor should also consider having their buildings evaluated to determine if a retrofit is needed.