The magnitude (M) 7.9 Fort Tejon earthquake in 1857 caused a horizontal shift of about 30 feet (9 m) on this stretch of the southern San Andreas Fault. Although the quake ruptured nearly 200 miles (300 km) of the fault, it did little damage because southern California’s population was small at that time. As a result, only 2 fatalities were recorded.
1868 Hayward Earthquake
On October 21, 1868, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay region. Although the region was sparsely populated, this quake on the Hayward Fault was one of the most destructive in California’s history. Only 30 fatalities were recorded. Recent studies show that such powerful Hayward Fault quakes have repeatedly jolted the region in the past. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists describe this fault as a tectonic time bomb.
1872 Lone Pine Earthquake
The true size of this earthquake is not known, but historical evidence leads researchers to estimate a 7.6 to 8 or greater — similar in size to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Of the estimated 250-300 inhabitants of Lone Pine, 27 are known to have perished and 52 of the 59 houses were destroyed. One report states that the main buildings were thrown down in almost every town in Inyo County. The earthquake was caused by the sudden 20 foot vertical and 40 foot horizontal movement.
1906 San Francisco Earthquake
The earthquake and resulting fire are remembered as the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States. The death toll fire, estimated to be above 3,000, is the greatest loss of life from a natural disaster in California's history. The economic impact has been compared with the more recent Hurricane Katrina. The earthquake even diverted the course of the Salinas River.
1933 Long Beach Earthquake
The Long Beach earthquake of 1933 took place on March 10, 1933 with a magnitude of 6.4, causing widespread damage to buildings throughout Southern California. The epicenter was offshore on the Newport-Inglewood Fault. Forty million dollars property damage resulted, and 115 lives were lost. Many of these fatalities occurred as people ran out of buildings and were hit by falling debris. The earthquake eliminated all doubts regarding the need for earthquake resistant design for structures.
1952 Kern County Earthquake
The 1952 Kern County earthquake was the largest earthquake to strike Southern California since the Fort Tejon earthquake of 1857 and the 1872 Lone Pine earthquake, causing immense and widespread damage. The mainshock killed 12 people, injured 18 and caused over $50 million in property damage. Damage occurred as far away as Los Angeles, where six people were killed. It was followed by several aftershocks, at least 20 of which were magnitude 5.0 or greater.
1971 San Fernando Earthquake
The 1971 San Fernando earthquake struck the San Fernando Valley with a magnitude of 6.6. It caused more than 10 miles of ruptures with average displacements of about 3 feet both horizontally and vertically. Four aftershocks were in the Magnitude 5 range. Sixty-five lives more than half a billion dollars in damage, including the destruction of two hospitals and two freeway interchanges. This earthquake was the inspiration for the movie, "Earthquake."
1983 Coalinga Earthquake
The 1983 Coalinga earthquake registered 6.5 on the Richter scale. It was caused by an unknown fault buried under the surface. The Coalinga earthquake suggested to geologists that the State of California was in even worse seismological condition than had been thought. This earthquake caused an estimated $10 million in property damage and injured 94 people. This earthquake triggered thousands of rockfalls and rockslides as far as 34 kilometers away from the epicenter.
1984 Morgan Hill Earthquake
The 1984 Morgan Hill Earthquake was a magnitude 6.2 earthquake with damages that totaled $7 million, not including those in high tech industrial facilities. . Morgan Hill was the worst affected, with a number of mobile homes sliding off foundations, and moderate damage to several masonry buildings in the city. The communities of San Jose, San Martin and Coyote were some areas that received minor damage from the earthquake.
1987 Whittier Narrows Earthquake
This earthquake, which registered 5.9 on the Richter Scale, was caused by slip on a previously unknown fault structure. Three people died from the earthquake while 5 additional deaths were indirectly related to the earthquake and its aftershocks. Scientists identified several other blind thrust areas because of this event.
This event was a very powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake. The shaking lasted for two to three minutes. Its location out in the Mojave Desert meant that damage and loss of life were significantly less than what they could have been. Five faults were ruptured. Only 3 people died, but more than 400 were injured.