Northridge Earthquake: 17 Years Ago - NBC Bay Area

Northridge Earthquake: 17 Years Ago

Scroll down to tell us what you remember about the earthquake



    Northridge Earthquake: 17 Years Ago
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    At about 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 17, 1994, the deadly Northridge earthquake shook Southern California.

    About 60 deaths were attributed to the quake, more than 7,000 people were injured and more than 20,000 people were left homeless, according to the USGS. The magnitude-6.7 quake damaged more than 40,000 buildings and several freeways.

    Where were you during the earthquake? What do you recall about the day?

    Scroll down to share your story.

    Like many SoCal residents, NBCLA's Conan Nolan was awakened by the shaking. He shares his experience that day:

      I am a native Californian who grew up near the mighty San Andreas fault. I have been through more than my share of earthquakes. They are a fact of life and, as I have learned over the year. If they didn't exist I wouldn't be living here (giving us the mountains, deserts, forests and the southern California weather).

      I remember the shaking early in the morning of January 17th. Jarred awake from a dead sleep, I ran to the room of my six month old son. He was fine. A picture had moved on the wall. In an earthquake, you never know the magnitude. Maybe you are sitting on top of the epicenter which is why you  felt it while most others felt a much slighter motion. Or if you are far away, and it felt that strong, than we are in for a massive amount of damage.

      The latter was the case. I believe, to this day, that the reason my home suffered little or no damage was due to the fact we live near a mountain range and thus are closer to bedrock. Homes in the valley are subject to "liquefaction" from being built on sediment and that is where most of the damage took place.

      When there is an earthquake, my job is to make my way to the seismology lab at Caltech. I did, and spent the next two weeks there, each day trying to get an assessment of what fault broke and what we could expect in the future. The fault which broke in Northridge was unknown to scientists in that it was a "blind thrust" fault in that it never made it to the surface. Up until then attention had been focused on the San Andreas to the north and east of downtown. After Northridge it became clear that smaller faults, right below the city, could do just as much damage if not more than a large quake 30 miles away.

      Northridge is still being studied by seismologists at Caltech, the US Geological Survey and the Southern California Earthquake Center at USC. It helped advance our knowledge of the mysteries of the deep. But regardless of how much we know, it won't stop the next one. When that happens… I will be back in Pasadena.

    And, here are a few from our Facebook page:

      Running thru my house getting my sons up and outside. It shook so long and hard we had time to do that --Susan Manzer
      Standing in a motel parking lot across from Disneyland in Anaheim, Ca... I never seen so many cars slide side to side... a lot of buildings tilted... --Kin Ridley
      My wife was on the 405 driving to LAx, she thought that someone bumped into her even though there was no traffic around at that time. Being a complex of town houses , the most vivid memory was the sound heard a fraction of seconds before each aftershocks. -- Jean-Louis Delezenne

      Santa Clarita, CA...holding on while the world turned upside down...then driving over fractured bridges, oozing crude pipelines, exploded sidewalk curbs, and avoiding holes in the streets that hissed with escaping natural gas see if others near us were okay. -- Kate Diaz