Malibu Earthquakes

Hillside home above PCH in Malibu.  Building in the Malibu area requires a geological investigation and adherence to the strict California and LA County building codes for protection from earthquake hazards.Copyright
Hillside home above PCH in Malibu. Building in the Malibu area requires a geological investigation and adherence to the strict California and LA County building codes for protection from earthquake hazards.

Malibu Disasters & Hazards: Earthquakes

The Malibu Coast Fault is a regional fault system that extends about 125 miles (200 km). Its eastern part forms the boundary between the Santa Monica Mountains (Western Transverse Ranges) to the north and the Los Angeles metropolitan area (California Continental Borderland) to the south. The fault system continues to the west, terminating beyond the northern Channel Islands. Malibu itself lies in the western section of the fault system region, the zone from approximately Santa Monica to Pt. Dume, where the steeply north dipping, left-oblique slip fault lies close to the coastline.

Significant quakes felt in Malibu in recent years:

Date Name Mag
2-21-1973 Point Mugu 5.9
1-1-1979 Malibu 5.2
10-1-1987 Whittier Narrows 5.9
1-19-1989 Malibu 5.0
1-17-1994 Northridge 6.7

March 10, 1933 ERB and dinner guests are sitting in his La Costa Malibu residence study waiting for dinner when a major earthquake strikes just before 6 pm. (The serious Long Beach Earthquake).Severe shaking and a ceiling that appears to move in circles send them out to Roosevelt highway. The cook/server is most upset at the meal being ruined, having his table setting messed up and having to turn off the gas. Despite continual aftershocks they manage to have dinner at 10 pm. He counts at least 35 aftershocks over the next few days. Ed found the first shock to be rather thrilling but he finds the long string of aftershocks to be very hard to adjust to

The 1979 Malibu earthquake caused only minor damage in the areas closest to the epicenter, though it felt as far away as Kings County, Kern County, and San Diego County. Perhaps the most unique feature of this earthquake was its timing -- the earthquake occurred while that year's Rose Bowl college football game (USC vs. Michigan) was going on in Pasadena, and some of the fans in the stadium were alarmed by the shaking, but the game continued (USC won, 17-10).

During the 1989 Malibu earthquake, several people were injured, shelved items fell in local stores, and some windows were broken in the shaking. Hardest hit was the coastal region encompassing Malibu, Santa Monica, and Redondo Beach, though damage was low even in that area. Slight damage was also reported in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Monterey Park, and Lancaster.

The 1994 Northridge earthquake was not centered near Malibu, but the strong quake was felt throughout Malibu and some damage occured to homes and commercial buildings.

Future Earthquakes in Malibu

Southern California is a seismically active area with significant risks from the major San Andreas fault system. The Malibu Coast fault system is itself active and has accumulated large displacements over time. This is a definite indication of a significant earthquake and tsunami threat to the area around Santa Monica Bay since the fault has been deemed capable of producing a magnitude 6.5 to 7 earthquake (35% probability during 2005-2035 period). Such an earthquake would be much more significant in the Malibu area than the local effect of the so-called "Big One" quake on the distant San Anderas fault. In addition, the Anacapa-Dume Fault offshore west of Point Dume, a large north-dipping reverse fault strand associated with the Malibu fault, has been found to pose a serious additional earthquake threat. Further, the Solstice and Winter Mesa strands of the Malibu Coast fault have been officially recognized as active faults.

There will certainly be future earthquakes in Malibu.

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