UPDATED: 4.5 quake jolts area

UPDATED: 4.5 quake jolts area

A noticeable 4.5-magnitude earthquake rocked several area
residents out of sleep at 12:51 this morning, marking the second
and third quakes in 12 hours to strike the region.
A noticeable 4.5-magnitude earthquake rocked several area residents out of sleep at 12:51 this morning, marking the second and third quakes in 12 hours to strike the region.

The quake was centered six miles southeast of San Juan Bautista, eight miles southwest of Hollister and occurred at a depth of 5.2 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey website.

Jim Berkland, an 80-year-old retired “maverick” geologist whose public prediction of the devastating 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake (also known as the World Series quake) earned him a two-month suspension from his job as Santa Clara County geologist, predicts more to come with high chances of shakes March 20.

“This is an extremely strong period here; it’s going to culminate in March,” he told the Dispatch today from his Glen Ellen home.

Wednesday morning’s earthquake was felt as far away as San Jose, which also experienced a 4.1-magnitude temblor at 4:10 p.m. Friday. That earthquake’s epicenter was 11 miles north of Morgan Hill.

Wednesday morning’s episode was followed by 17 aftershocks reported on the USGS website, including a magnitude-3.4 earthquake that occurred at 1 a.m. about five miles from San Juan Bautista. The last aftershock hit at 6:09 a.m.

Between Saturday and today, there has been a moderate swarm of small earthquakes occurring in areas between San Jose and San Juan Bautista according to USGS website.

Residents in Hollister said after this morning’s initial jolt at 12:51 a.m., the ground seemed to roll for several more seconds.

Workers at Mi Pueblo Food Center and Safeway on First Street in Gilroy said the temblor caused no damaged to their facilities and that nothing fell off the shelves.

Sgt. Chad Gallacinao with the Gilroy Police Department said neither the GPD or the Gilroy Fire Department received any report of injuries or significant damage.

Susan Garcia, public information specialist for the Earthquake Science Center at the USGS, said the earthquake likely happened near the San Andreas fault, which dissects Hecker Pass halfway between Gilroy and Watsonville and sandwiches Santa Clara County with another fault inland.

“In the mountains to the west, you have the San Andreas Fault; to the east, you have the Calaveras Fault,” explained David Oppenheimer, a seismologist and manager of the Northern California Earthquake Hazards Team.

As for Berkland’s prediction he explained during March, the moon would make its closest approach to the earth in the past five years.

“Historically, there are three months that are the most prolific for damaging earthquakes in the Bay Area,” he said. “March, April and October.”

Berkland told the Dispatch Oct. 13, 1989 he expected an 85 percent chance for a 6.5 to 7-magnitude earthquake to occur in the coming week. Four days later, a major earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay area.

Berkland, who was a Santa Clara County geologist from 1973 to 1994, said the temblor action could be happening between March 19 and March 26.

“It’s an earthquake-prone period,” he said. “The odds are increased.”

To this, Garcia said there is a one in five chance of a magnitude-6.7 or greater event on the San Andreas Fault system in the next 30 years.

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