When the magnitude 7.1 earthquake ruptured the earth in the Mojave Desert, it packed the energy of 45 nuclear bombs of the type that fell on Hiroshima.
But a variety of factors lessened the potency and impact of what was the most powerful Southern California earthquake in nearly two decades.
The massive temblor, it’s important to note, ruptured on a fault whose northwest-southeast direction pushed the worst shaking away from populated areas.
The area Ridgecrest sits in is riddled with faults — in the Eastern California Shear Zone — that have produced some of the state’s biggest quakes in the modern record, like the magnitude 7.5 Owens Valley earthquake of 1872 and the magnitude 7.3 Landers earthquake in 1992.
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These Planet Labs, Inc. satellite images provided to CNN show a crack that formed in the area close to the epicenter.
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