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Depth, distance reduce impact of quake off California's northern coast

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By The Associated Press
Monday, March 10, 2014, 8:30 p.m.

EUREKA, Calif. — One of the largest earthquakes to hit California in decades rattled the state's northern coast, but its depth and distance from shore reduced the effect on land, where there were no reports of injuries or damage, scientists and authorities said on Monday.

The magnitude-6.8 quake struck at 10:18 p.m. Sunday and was centered 50 miles west of Eureka and about 10 miles beneath the Pacific seabed, according to the Geological Survey. It was initially reported as a magnitude-6.9 but later downgraded.

By late Monday morning, it had produced 20 aftershocks of magnitude-3.5 or larger, and more were expected during the coming days, said Keith Knudsen, deputy director of the USGS's Earthquake Science Center in Menlo Park, Calif.

Knudsen said there was a 5 percent to 10 percent chance of a larger quake in the area in the next week.

The quake was felt widely across the region, but fire and sheriff's officials in Humboldt County said they had no reports of damage or injuries. Humboldt County includes most of the populated areas closest to the epicenter.

“Everybody felt it region-wide to the point that there was concern for damage,” said Humboldt County Sheriff's Lt. Steve Knight. But other than triggering home alarms, the county escaped unharmed, he said. “We're very grateful.”

There was no tsunami danger for the region, according to the National Tsunami Warning Center.

More than 3,000 people reported on the USGS website that they felt the quake within hours of it striking, including some across the border in Oregon.

“It was a big bump, and then it rolled for about 30 seconds,” said Diana Harralson, 64, who lives in an apartment in Rio Dell, about 55 miles southeast of the earthquake's epicenter. “It was a real good shaker.”

Harralson said knickknacks fell off the wall, but there was no damage. A California native who has experienced other earthquakes, she said she and her cat slept comfortably through the night.

Amandip Heer, a manager at a 76 Gas Station and convenience store in Eureka, described the quake as a “vibration” but said nothing fell off the shelves at the store and there was no other damage.

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