A 4.8 magnitude earthquake centered approximately three miles west of Isla Vista shook the Santa Barbara coast this morning at 7:38 a.m.
The quake was followed by two noticeable aftershocks — one at 7:50 a.m. in about the same location and another with an epicenter about a mile west of the original quake at 8:38 a.m. Both aftershocks registered magnitudes of 2.6.
According to United States Geographical Survey research geophysicist Robert Graves, the earthquake’s epicenter was located just off the coast of Isla Vista, almost directly beneath the UCSB campus and at a depth of approximately 4.5 miles.
Graves said the shaking intensities were relatively light, as they reached about four or five on a modified Mercalli intensity scale, and there is no projected risk of a tsunami resulting from an earthquake of this magnitude.
There were many smaller aftershocks, in addition to the two main instances, but these lighter shakes likely went unnoticed by most people, Graves said.
Bigger earthquakes have hit Santa Barbara in the past, as there was a 5.1 magnitude quake in 1978, a 5.5 magnitude in 1941 and a 6.8 magnitude in 1925.
The existence of large-scale quakes is not new to this area of the state, according to Graves, who said local residents can only accept these geographical phenomena and be well-prepared for experiencing them.
“It’s not damaging, but it did get our attention, so be prepared,” Graves said. “Check your emergency supplies, check your emergency kits, and just be ready if there’s a larger earthquake. Know what you’re going to do. We always recommend duck, cover and hold on.”
A version of this article appeared on page 3 of May 30th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.