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Quake Shakes L.A., Yields Good Data

April 16, 1998

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A small earthquake that did little more than rattle downtown high rises managed to stir up plenty of interest among scientists studying the web of faults beneath the city.

No damage or injuries were reported.

``It’s exciting,″ said Kerry Sieh, a geologist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena who was analyzing data from Wednesday afternoon’s quake.

The magnitude 3.2 quake was centered four miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Because it struck so close to the center of urban Los Angeles, where many instruments lie, the quake produced a wealth of data that was taking longer than usual to analyze.

Sieh said the quake struck in ``a very interesting area″ where there are a number of active faults but not many quakes. It occurred near the intersection of the Hollywood fault and the Elysian Park fold.

Sieh said the quake appeared to strike below the Elysian Park fold, probably on an 11-mile fault segment that runs underneath downtown Los Angeles.

At a Geological Society of America meeting last week, Sieh and a colleague reported that the segment could produce a Northridge-sized temblor of magnitude 6.5 to 6.8 every 1,000 to 3,000 years, although no one knows when it last ruptured.

The 6.7 magnitude Northridge quake of Jan. 17, 1994, killed 72 people and caused $25 billion in damage.

The Elysian Park fold has little earthquakes ``every couple of years,″ Sieh said.

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