Southern California Earthquake Data Center

Significant Earthquakes and Faults

Chronological Earthquake Index

White Wash Earthquake

Type of Faulting: right-lateral strike-slip
Time: February 25, 1980 / 2:48 am PST
Location: 33° 30' N, 116° 31' W about 40 km (25 miles) south of Palm Springs about 90 km (56 miles) northeast of San Diego

Magnitude: ML5.5

 

The White Wash earthquake of 1980 was not a major or highly damaging earthquake, but draws most of its fame from the fact that it was located very near the so-called "Anza seismic gap" (see the Anza Gap earthquake of 1982 for more about this "gap") -- though when the epicenter was determined, it was found to have occurred just beyond the southeastern end of the "Anza gap", and proved not to be a prelude to a larger earthquake within the gap, as some may have speculated at the time. Still, it did cause some notable damage: Landslides caused by the shaking forced the closing of Highway 74 between Spring Crest and Palm Springs. A fire broke out in Rancho Mirage when a gas line broke in an unoccupied home. Windows and dishes were broken in many areas in southern California. There were, however, no injuries reported, and none of the aftershocks to the White Wash earthquake were sufficiently large to cause additional damage.

 

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