USGS Retracts Three ‘Ghost’ Earthquakes, Blames Northern California Sensors

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Japan Meteorological Agency earthquake expert Koji Nakamura speaks during a press conference in Tokyo on May 30, 2015. A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck off the Japanese coast May 30, geologists said, shaking buildings in Tokyo and setting off car alarms, an AFP correspondent reported. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)

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In the past two days, malfunctions in the network of sensors that detect earthquakes in Northern California have issued three false alarms, forcing the U.S. Geological Survey to make a series of embarrassing retractions.

Just after midnight Friday morning, a magnitude 6.7 quake struck off the coast of Alaska. When its waves reached sensors operated by the Northern California Seismic Network, they were mistakenly interpreted as a 5.1 temblor near the Oregon border in Lewiston, officials say.

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