Earthquake 101

Julie Barrios

California is known for its earthquakes. The state has experienced several of the most terrifying shaking movements throughout history. The earliest reported earthquake in California was on July 28, 1769, by a group camping 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Most Californians do not know much about earthquakes other than that the Earth moves. Quakes are caused by the movement of tectonic plates or, in other words, plates in the crust of the earth. Shakes occur when frictional stress of gliding plate boundaries constructs and causes failure at a fault line. The quakes release elastic strain energy, and waves radiate from these energies, causing the Earth to move. At times, earthquakes have foreshocks, which are smaller earthquakes that occur in similar spots as the bigger quake that follows. The bigger earthquake is called mainshocks, which almost always have aftershocks. Aftershocks can continue for days, weeks, months, and in some cases, even years. 


How prepared are some DVC students and their families for an earthquake? 


“My family and I are very well prepared for an earthquake or any emergency. We have these boxes in our garage that holds some of our clothes with some canned food and water bottles. We have a couple of small medkits with a couple of hundred dollars,” states Jenna Sosa, a sophomore. “So I would say we are prepared for anything…. but I think we should restock since we packed all of that stuff about two years ago. So maybe our clothes wouldn’t fit anymore, or there could be a couple of expired foods.” 


“At home, I have a couple of flashlights, gallons of water, and some canned food. I wouldn’t say that I’m super prepared for an earthquake, but I do think that my family and I would be good for a couple of days. To be more prepared, I would say that we could put more things in the car just in case an earthquake hit us while we’re driving,” claims senior Amalia Perez. 


What are some DVC students’ most scary/interesting experiences with an earthquake?


“I would say my most intriguing experience would be the summer of 2019. I believe it was around the 4th of July. I knew an earthquake happened in my home city of LA and called my parents to see if they were okay because, at the time, I was in Houston visiting my grandma. The day I got back to LA, I was in my room rocking back in my chair, and all of a sudden, I felt like I was going to fall. I was like “Oh crap, I shouldn’t have been leaning back in my chair,” but then I realized my blinds along with the other stuff in my room started to shake, so I quickly got off my chair and then got to cover,” mentioned Brandon Moreno, a senior at DVC. 


“One time, I fell out of my bed during an earthquake and also one time a big glass jug fell. During an earthquake, my first instinct is to get under a table and get to safety,” reveals Jake Preston, a junior at DVC. 


Being informed about the history of earthquakes is important because California is overdue for a major earthquake. So do not forget to create your emergency earthquake kit and a plan with your family to be better prepared. If you are having trouble making a kit you can take a look at this infographic for more information.