This is the largest earthquake to hit Southern California since 1999


Sections of freeway ramps collapsed during the Northridge earthquake in 1994.

The last time Southern California saw such a large earthquake was nearly 20 years ago, when the magnitude 7.1 Hector Mine quake, centered in a remote part of the Mojave Desert, shook the region.

The 6.4 magnitude quake that struck Thursday near the town of Ridgecrest -- a community west of the Mojave Desert -- was felt in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

The Hector Mine earthquake struck in the early morning hours of October 16, 1999. People in most of Southern California as well as parts of Arizona and Nevada reported feeling the tremor, but the location was "so remote that it caused relatively negligible damage," the Southern California Earthquake Data Center said.

Thursday's earthquake was felt in central Los Angeles as a long, rolling quake, making buildings rock back and forth for at least several seconds, but there were few reports of damage in the city.

Neither earthquake struck along the San Andreas Fault, officials said.

While those two quakes were of greater magnitude, the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles caused more damage and deaths.

A deadly 1994 quake in Los Angeles

Sections of freeway ramps collapsed during the Northridge earthquake in 1994.

Sections of freeway ramps collapsed during the Northridge earthquake in 1994.

The 6.7 magnitude Northridge earthquake struck Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley on January 17, 1994, killing at least 57 people, injuring more than 7,000 and leaving an estimated $20 billion in damages, according to the US Geological Survey.

"The earthquake had immense impact on people and structures because it was centered directly beneath a heavily populated and built-up urban region," the USGS said.

"The 10-20 seconds of strong shaking collapsed buildings, brought down freeway interchanges, and ruptured gas lines that exploded into fires."

Some of the state's biggest earthquakes in recent years have been recorded in Northern California.

In 2010, a magnitude 6.5 quake struck off the shore of the coastal city of Eureka, leaving thousands without power.

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