After 2 quakes in 2 days in Calif., more shaking expected

So many earthquakes have rocked the high desert of Southern California since Friday's 7.1-magnitude temblor that the U.S. Geological Survey said Saturday it is unable to "count all events."

The quakes — there have been more than 3,000 associated with the two major shakers —are part of a sequence that is sure to continue rumbling in Searles Valley and Ridgecrest, California, seismologists say.

Late Friday,Lucy Jones, a seismologist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, initially said there was about a 1 in 10 chance that yet another earthquake could top the last one, in this case the 7.1 of Friday night.

If that sounds like a long shot, consider that just 34 hours before that 7.1 the region was rocked by a 6.4 which at that point was the largest quake to strike Southern California in 20 years. The Thursday quake was only 6.8 miles northwest of Friday's epicenter near Ridgecrest.

The chances of such an occurrence were one in 20, Jones said on Twitter, adding after Friday's earthquake, "This is that 1 in 20 time."

In fact, Jones said at a news conference late Friday, the 7.1 was "triggered" by Thursday's quake.

Robert W. Graves, a USGS seismologist, said at the same press conference that the night's quake was "about a factor of 8 more powerful" than Thursday's.

Jones, the doyenne of California seismology, said the odds were favorable for stronger temblors in the area, including a 50 percent chance that the region could see a shaker measuring 6.0 or greater.

And, she said, the "chance for 5s is approaching certainty."

In an updated forecast Saturday, the Geological Survey reduced those odds: There was a 3 percent chance of a 7 or greater over the next week and a 27 percent chance of a 6 or greater.

"It is likely that there will be smaller earthquakes over the next 1 Week," the forecast reads. "The number of aftershocks will drop off over time, but a large aftershock can increase the numbers again, temporarily."

The fierce activity Friday and Saturday shook Southern Californians who hadn't experienced such a major temblor since a 7.1 struck near Joshua Tree in October 1999. (A 7.2 magnitude quake shook Southern California in 2010, but its epicenter was in the desert hinterlands just south of the U.S.-Mexico border).

On Friday night, Jones said there had been a cluster of Ridgecrest-area temblors, including 17 earthquakes since the 7.1 that measured greater than 4.0, and 70 that measured greater than 3.0.

A shaker in the same region triggered a warning alarm during the news conference.

"I just felt that," Jones said. "This is an active sequence."

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Magnitude 6.4 earthquake hits Southern California
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Magnitude 6.4 earthquake hits Southern California
People observe a mobile home in Ridgecrest, Calif. on Friday July 5, 2019. The home was knocked off its foundation in the Fourth of July earthquake. (James Quigg/The Daily Press via AP)
Visitors look over a crack on Highway 178 between Ridgecrest and Trona, Calif., on Friday July 5, 2019. The strongest earthquake in 20 years shook a large swath of Southern California and parts of Nevada on the July 4th holiday, rattling nerves and causing injuries and damage in a town near the epicenter, followed by a swarm of ongoing aftershocks. (James Quigg/The Daily Press via AP)
United States Geological Survey (USGS) equipment is set up near a split in the pavement on Highway 178 between Ridgecrest and Trona, Calif., on Friday July 5, 2019. The strongest earthquake in 20 years shook a large swath of Southern California and parts of Nevada on the July 4th holiday, rattling nerves and causing injuries and damage in a town near the epicenter, followed by a swarm of ongoing aftershocks. (James Quigg/The Daily Press via AP)
Traffic drives over a patched section of Highway 178 between Ridgecrest and Trona, Calif., on Friday, July 5, 2019. The strongest earthquake in 20 years shook a large swath of Southern California and parts of Nevada on the July 4th holiday, rattling nerves and causing injuries and damage in a town near the epicenter, followed by a swarm of ongoing aftershocks. The 6.4 magnitude quake struck Thursday in the Mojave Desert, about 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles, near the town of Ridgecrest. (James Quigg/The Daily Press via AP)
A child walks by one of the mobile homes knocked off its foundation by an earthquake in Ridgecrest, Calif., on Friday July 5, 2019. The strongest earthquake in 20 years shook a large swath of Southern California and parts of Nevada on the July 4th holiday, rattling nerves and causing injuries and damage in a town near the epicenter, followed by a swarm of ongoing aftershocks. The 6.4 magnitude quake struck Thursday morning in the Mojave Desert, about 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles, near the town of Ridgecrest. (James Quigg/The Daily Press via AP)
CALIFORNIA shaded relief map highlighted, with SACRAMENTO (capital) and earthquake locator, partial graphic
A damaged motorhome is seen red-taped after an earthquake, Thursday, July 4, 2019, in Ridgecrest, Calif. The strongest earthquake in 20 years shook a large swath of Southern California and parts of Nevada on Thursday, rattling nerves on the July 4th holiday and causing injuries and damage in a town near the epicenter, followed by a swarm of ongoing aftershocks. The 6.4 magnitude quake struck at 10:33 a.m. in the Mojave Desert, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Los Angeles, near the town of Ridgecrest, Calif. (AP Photo/Matt Hartman)
Merchandise lies on the floor at a Family Dollar store seen through a window after an earthquake Thursday, July 4, 2019, in Trona, Calif. A strong earthquake rattled a large swath of Southern California and parts of Nevada on Thursday, rattling nerves on the July 4th holiday and causing some damage in a town near the epicenter, followed by a swarm of aftershocks. (AP Photo/Matt Hartman)
This photo shows damage on Highway 178 in Ridgecrest, Calif., following an earthquake in the area Thursday, July 4, 2019. The earthquake shook a large swath of Southern California and parts of Nevada on Thursday, rattling nerves on the July 4th holiday and causing some injuries and damage in the town near the epicenter, followed by a swarm of ongoing aftershocks. (AP Photo/Matt Hartman)
RIDGECREST, CA - JULY 05: On Friday morning Shalyn Pineda, regional supervisor of Kern Counties Libraries, at Ridgecrest Library help in picking up books knocked down by Thursday?s massive 6.4 earthquake that hit Ridgecrest. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
RIDGECREST, CALIFORNIA - JULY 04: A worker cleans up in a liquor store after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck the area and knocked over bottles in the store on July 4, 2019 near Ridgecrest, California. The earthquake was the largest to strike Southern California in 20 years with the epicenter located in a remote area of the Mojave Desert. The temblor was felt by residents across much of Southern California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
RIDGECREST, CALIFORNIA - JULY 04: People walk near cracks in the road after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck the area on July 4, 2019 near Ridgecrest, California. The earthquake was the largest to strike Southern California in 20 years with the epicenter located in a remote area of the Mojave Desert. The temblor was felt by residents across much of Southern California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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