PARKFIELD, Calif. (AP) — A strong earthquake shook the
state yesterday from Los Angeles to San Francisco, cracking pipes,
breaking bottles of wine and knocking pictures from walls.
There were no immediate reports of any injuries from the
6.0-magnitude quake and its more than 160 aftershocks.
The quake was centered about seven miles southeast of Parkfield,
a town of 37 people known as California’s earthquake capital.
The town is one of the world’s most seismically active areas,
located on the San Andreas Fault.
“Things were shaking so bad you couldn’t tell where
to go next,” said Parkfield Vineyard owner Harry Miller, who
grows 170 acres of wine grapes. “Trees shaking like brooms,
and dust coming from everywhere.”
The quake tipped over about 300 cases of his wine, and five or
six of Miller’s buildings — including his home —
were damaged. Most of his water pipes burst.
The quake struck at 10:15 a.m. local time and was felt along a
350-mile stretch, as far north as Sacramento and as far south as
Santa Ana, southeast of Los Angeles. The center was about halfway
between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The few residents of Parkfield — a half-dozen buildings on
either side of a street in a valley surrounded by oak-studded hills
— pride themselves on the area’s seismic activity.
Drivers into town pass a sign reading “Now entering the North
“I’ll take my earthquakes over those hurricanes any
day,” said John Varian, a lifelong resident and owner of the
Parkfield Cafe, where food spilled out of the cupboards
A magnitude-6 quake can cause severe damage, though any problems
are generally far less severe in remote areas and places like
California with strong building codes.
“This is earthquake country. It’s a larger
earthquake than what usually occurs, but it’s not
unprecedented,” said U.S. Geological Survey spokeswoman
Parkfield was shaken by six similar 6.0 earthquakes between 1857
and 1966. Countless smaller tremors constantly rattle the area,
which is covered with just about every type of tool used to study
quakes as part of a long-term research project.
“This will probably be the most well-recorded earthquake
in history,” said Michael Blanpied of the USGS.