USC

Out of state students experience Southern California earthquakes

Students from outside California adjust to the state’s characteristic quakes

Earthquakes may be a common occurrence for Californians, but with under 65% of students hailing from other parts of the country and world, not everyone is as familiar.

When a 3.6 magnitude earthquake struck around five miles from the center of USC’s campus Sunday, October 24, those students expressed concern over recent earthquake activity.

Unlike other natural disasters, earthquakes are unpredictable. Caroline Silva, a sophomore computer science and business administration major from Florida, said that at home she can prepare for natural disasters, like hurricanes.

“You always see them coming. We board up all the windows and stockpile food in case trees fall or flooding happens,” Silva said. “The thing that really scared me about earthquakes was that you couldn’t see when they were going to happen.”

For Jason Ha, a freshman mechanical engineering major from Louisiana, the earthquake was the first he had ever felt. Nonetheless, the minor quake and the 4.4 magnitude earthquake on September 17 did not faze him.

“Those were relatively minor, small scale earthquakes, so I didn’t feel them as much,” Ha said. “But some major earthquake, I’m not too sure how well I would be prepared for it.”

Minor earthquakes are a common occurrence in L.A. However, for many, “The Big One,” a 7.8 magnitude (or larger) quake striking along the southern San Andreas fault, is lurking around the corner.

Professor John Vidale, who specializes in seismology, or the study of earthquakes, explained that the reason Southern California experiences so many earthquakes is because it is home to the San Andreas fault system, which he called complicated.

“[Southern California] is one of the most active places [for earthquakes] in the U.S.,” Vidale said. “Only maybe Hawaii and Alaska have more earthquakes than we have here in Southern California.”

Ha said that even though USC has provided resources to help students prepare for earthquakes, such as the Great Shakeout Drill on October 21, it wasn’t quite enough.

“I wouldn’t say USC’s prepared us fully for an earthquake,” Ha said.

Annenberg Media reached out to USC for comment, but did not receive a response in time for the publishing of the article.