4.6 Earthquake Hits Malibu, Felt Across Los Angeles, Interrupts Live TV Broadcast

UPDATED with latest: A good-sized earthquake rattled windows across Los Angeles at about 1:47 p.m. today. Preliminary reports put the temblor at 4.6 on the Richter Scale and have it centered about 7.7 miles southwest of Westlake Village. The USGS said the quake occurred at a depth of about 10 miles. It was the largest such shake felt in that area in some time.

There was no immediate word of damage or injuries, but the area received about seven inches of rain in the past week, so local landslides may come to light in the coming hours.

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Dr. Lucy Jones of the USGS said the shock happened “very close to the Malibu Coast Fault” in “an an area that has had plenty of earthquakes in the past and is well understood to be seismically active.” Another USGS official later said the quake may have been located on the nearby Anacapa-Dume Fault.

Malibu Coast Fault line comes out at the coast and then dips down beneath the mountains. Officials said there “have been five events of magnitude 4 or greater recorded in the local area.” They include the largest, a 5.3, in 1973, a 5.2 in 1979 and another in 1989. The most recent was a 4.4 in 2009.

The ground shook hard for about 5 seconds not just in Malibu, but also in adjacent areas, such as Agoura Hills. For residents of the area who have a sense of such things, the quake was more of a jolt than a roll. Longtime locals may be remember the Sylmar quake, a much larger (6.5 magnitude) shake which coincidentally happened on the same date in 1971.

One Westlake Village resident caught the moment the quake hit on video, as well as the reaction of her dog Butterscotch.

Los Angeles County Fire Department and the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s Malibu officials quickly indicated there were no immediate reports of injuries or property damage. The Los Angeles City Fire Department went into “earthquake mode,” in which crews fan out to survey the entire city, but initial indications were no reports of damage.

The LAFD’s procedure following a quake is to check transportation infrastructures such as freeway overpasses, large places of assemblage and apartment buildings, dams and power-lines. The LAFD’s complete survey generally take about an hour to complete. (Longtime residents will remember that overpasses bridges were compromised by the much larger 1994 Northridge quake.)

The jolt, according to a self-reporting tool maintained by the U.S.G.S., was felt as far south as San Diego, as far north as Goleta and as far east as Banning.

It was definitely felt in the studios at Fox Sports 1 where Speak anchor Joy Taylor and her guests experienced the jolt while talking this weekend’s Super Bowl. Former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Emmanuel Acho, who was live on air with Taylor, posted video of the incident in which he’s heard describing the experience as it happens.

“Quite literally, the lights in the studio started to shake. The whole stage started to shake. The camera started to shake. We were all confused as to what was happening,” he says in the clip.

The U.S.G.S. has detected more than a dozen aftershocks registering as high as 3.0. As with any quake, experts say there is about a 5% chance that the temblor was a foreshock of something bigger to come in the next 24 hours.

Speaking of which, there was a larger quake earlier in the morning in Hawaii, but U.S.G.S. officials said the two were not connected.

One automated feed that purports to cull data from U.S.G.S. pinpointed the initial quake off Decker Canyon Road (23) in the hills above El Matador State Beach. That’s very close to Point Dume, longtime home to many well-known showbiz types.

The National Weather Service said there is no danger of a Tsunami for Malibu.

City News Service contributed to this story.

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