1 Year Since Largest Earthquake Felt In San Diego

7.2 Earthquake Hit Near Mexicali 1 Year Ago

It was one year ago Monday that a magnitude-7.2 earthquake struck near Mexicali, Mexico, becoming the largest shaker to be felt in the San Diego region.

The 3:40 p.m. temblor was centered 37 miles south-southeast of the Mexican city, but injuries and damage to buildings was minimal.

However, it was discovered that liquefaction caused $2 billion of damage to agriculture near the epicenter, said Debi Kilb, a seismologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Research by her colleague, geophysicist David Sandwell, found that a 10-by 25-mile area was subjected to liquefaction, a process that is not well understood, Kilb said.

Liquefaction was also present in the recent magnitude-9.0 earthquake off Japan, which Kilb said released 1,000 times more energy than the Easter Sunday quake felt in San Diego last year.

Even though scientists consider "The Big One" to be inevitable in California, the shallowness of the fault lines will prevent an earthquake as large as the one that unleashed a tsunami that devastated coastal areas of northern Japan, Kilb said.

"There's just no way Southern California can have that kind of an earthquake," Kilb said.

As big as the Easter earthquake was, it did not come on one of the region's two major faults, and scientists are trying to find out why, she said.

Terminal 2 at Lindbergh Field and the Sheraton Harbor Island towers were briefly evacuated after the shaking ended, but an inspection found no major problems, other than jammed doors on the hotel's upper floors, according to the San Diego Fire Rescue Department.

The Nordstrom store at Fashion Valley had a water leak; another water line break occurred at the Veterans Building on San Diego Avenue; windows broke at the San Diego Sports Arena; and cracked walls were reported at an old apartment building at 4133 Kansas St. and the county Animal Shelter on Gaines Street, the SDFRD reported.

Emergency officials said one person was hurt in Julian when struck in the head by something that fell off a shelf at a store, and a 15-year-old boy fell while running down the stairs of his home in Chula Vista. Paramedics also treated a few people who were hyperventilating in downtown hotels.

The largest previous quakes to impact San Diego were a magnitude-7.1 in Imperial Valley in 1940 and a magnitude-6.5 centered in Borrego Springs in 1968.

Last April's earthquake spawned thousands of aftershocks centered in and around San Diego County, some of which could be felt for a couple of months after the main quake.

There was a swarm of smaller earthquakes in the area of the epicenter the day before the big shaker, which tied for the 12th largest of 2010 in the world -- the largest in the United States, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

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