By James Smith
27 Aug 2012
Over the past 30 plus hours, over 240 earthquakes have left the area of Brawley California shaken. The quakes, which began last Saturday evening, have been averaging eight quakes an hour, but many quakes have occurred within only a few minutes of each other.
The 2010 United States Census reported that Brawley had a population of 24,953 and is located in Imperial County.
The area is no stranger to earthquakes, but the latest quakes have brought some damage. Capt. Jesse Zendejas of the Brawley Fire Department had stated that the earthquakes caused cosmetic damage to at least three buildings dating to the 1930s in downtown Brawley.
USGS Seismologist Rob Graves was quoted as saying “Obviously, all this activity is related or interconnected, but it doesn’t really follow the typical main shock, aftershock activity”
Graves further stated that such earthquake storms are not unprecedented or unusual in that region. As recent as 2005, the area was shaken by hundreds of quakes, and in 1981, that swarm contained a magnitude 5.8 quake.
The residents of Brawley are feeling shook up as well. Alfonso Alvarez, who has a business renting “bounce houses” and other party supplies. Alvarez, said his family had felt 15 quakes over two and a half hours and, after the biggest one, had relocated to the front yard.
“It’s been pretty bad. Some of them are slow and then they get intense,” he said. “We’re so anxious right now we can’t sit still.
Seismologist Lucy Jones of the USGS said the current activity was not uncommon for the area, as the town lies within a region known as the “Brawley Seismic Zone” that sits between the San Andreas and Imperial faults.
“This is a classic Brawley Seismic Zone swarm,” she said. “It’s relatively hot.”
Jones said they have never seen a Brawley swarm produce anything larger than a magnitude 5.8 quake.
“We’ve never seen a Brawley swarm followed by a big earthquake on another fault,” she added, and that the current swarm could last for days.