Earthquake: 4.3 quake strikes in Carson

·3 min read
Carson, CA. September 17, 2021: The Marathon refinery burns in the background of a neighborhood after a 4.3 earthquake that was centered in Carson Friday night. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)
A magnitude 4.3 earthquake centered in Carson on Friday caused the Marathon Petroleum refinery to lose power, a spokesman said. As a result, the refinery conducted flaring to burn off excess gases, which lit up the night sky. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake was reported Friday evening just before 8 p.m. in Carson, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake produced shaking that is considered moderate on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale across wide swaths of Carson, Torrance, Wilmington, Gardena and Compton. Such moderate shaking can cause dishes and windows to break and can overturn unstable objects.

Light or weak shaking was felt through the Los Angeles Basin, Orange County and the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.

The earthquake was centered in Carson and caused the Marathon Petroleum refinery at 223rd Street and Wilmington Avenue to lose power, according to Jamal Kheiry, a spokesman for the company. As a result, the refinery began to conduct flaring to burn off excess gases — which lit up the night sky and prompted concern among residents in Carson and beyond.

"Flares are safety devices and the flares are functioning as intended. There are no injuries or off-site impact," Kheiry told The Times in an email. L.A. County firefighters were at first summoned to the refinery about 8 p.m., but the refinery officials then called and canceled.

"Whatever is going on is a normal procedure," dispatch supervisor Jeremy Stafford said.

Onlookers take pictures of the Marathon Petroleum refinery after the earthquake.
Onlookers take pictures of the Marathon Petroleum refinery after a 4.3 earthquake hit the Carson area. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The earthquake occurred less than a mile from West Carson, one mile from Los Angeles, two miles from Torrance and two miles from Long Beach, where a low rumble was felt through the city.

Along Long Beach's downtown Promenade, the jolt left overhead strands of lights swaying as crowds checked their phones for information.

"You all felt the earthquake, right?" one man asked as he exited his apartment complex. "I wasn't sure if it was just the brownies kicking in."

The shaking lasted roughly 15 seconds, enough time to remove any doubt as to the cause of the vibration.

Seismologist Lucy Jones told KCBS-TV that the quake “doesn’t look abnormal at all."

“This size happens on average somewhere in Southern California every couple of months,“ she told the TV station. “When it happens to be in the middle of the Los Angeles Basin, then a lot more people feel it and it becomes bigger news.“

As soon as they realized their lives were not in imminent peril, Southern Californians quickly turned to a popular local pastime: earthquake Twitter.

By 8:30 p.m., #earthquake was the No. 1 trending topic in the United States, as people across the Southland reached for their phones to riff.

Many users shared their observations of the shaking, while others logged on just to inform their followers that they too had felt it — often with an “obligatory #earthquake tweet.”

“felt that one #earthquake,” comedian Rosie O’Donnell tweeted to her 1.2 million followers, making hers one of the more high-profile accounts to weigh in on the shaking.

In the last 10 days, there have been two earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater centered nearby, and in the Los Angeles area, an average of five earthquakes with magnitudes between 4.0 and 5.0 occur per year.

Find out what to do before, and during, an earthquake near you by signing up for our Unshaken newsletter, which breaks down emergency preparedness into bite-sized steps over six weeks. Learn more about earthquake kits, which apps you need, Jones' most important advice and more at latimes.com/Unshaken.

Times staff writers Luke Money and Julia Wick contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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