Notable Earthquake of the Week

The 1956 San Miguel Earthquake Series (M6.8, M6.1, M6.3 and M6.4)

When a large earthquake occurs, people in the effected region should always be prepared for aftershocks. Sometimes aftershocks can be nearly as large with the main shock. This was all to evident with the powerful earthquake sequence in northern Baja California, Mexico, in February, 1956.

At 6:32 a.m. the morning of February 9 a strong earthquake registering M6.8 occurred about 45 mi. southeast of Ensenada in the Juarez Mountains, near the town of San Miguel. Damage was severe to the sparse dwellings in the area and minor damage was reported as far away as border towns in Southern California. There are lurid reports of the ground in constant motion as numerous aftershocks followed the main jolt. Just three hours into the sequence, a strong M6.1 jolt rocked the region. Already damaged structures sustained even more damage and residents would not return to their homes as swarms of aftershock heaved the ground back and forth. The two more M6's occurred in the sequence, the first a M6.3 temblor at 10:33 a.m. February 14 and the next a M6.4 later that evening at 5:20 p.m.

Seismologically, it was extraordinary; physically it was terrifying. While powerful earthquake sequences like this are rare, one should always be prepared for aftershocks after a significant earthquake.

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