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Hundreds of Tremors Rock Far Southern California August 31, 2012
Quake Map of Southern California
The strongest pair of more than 400 earthquakes to strike Southern California’s southern desert region within four days caused scattered damage as they flung items off shelves.

A number or residents were forced to evacuate their homes while hospital patients were evacuated briefly so engineers could examine the facility.

Scientists say they don’t fully understand the reason for such a vigorous seismic swarm, but don’t think it will lead to the catastrophic “big one.”

But they do acknowledge that the dynamics of the San Andreas fault are much different south of the Salton Sea than they are in the Los Angeles area.

The North American and Pacific tectonic plates grind against each other farther north, but start to pull away from each other south of the Salton Sea.

This process caused Baja California to separate from the Mexican mainland, and also appeared to cause the seismic swarms around Brawley, according to seismologists.

Previous swarms occurred in 2005, 1981 as well as in the 1960s and 1970s.