Environment & Science

USGS warns of hoax earthquake letter predicting 7.4 tremor

A stairwell at a Fullerton apartment building that was red-tagged after a 5.1 earthquake Friday, March 28, 2014. Following the quake, a letter was sent around claiming the area is due for a larger quake. The USGS says the letter is a hoax.
A stairwell at a Fullerton apartment building that was red-tagged after a 5.1 earthquake Friday, March 28, 2014. Following the quake, a letter was sent around claiming the area is due for a larger quake. The USGS says the letter is a hoax.
Adrian Florido/KPCC

A letter making the rounds online and to Orange County residents that warns of an “impending sizable earthquake in Southern California” and claims to be from U.S. Geological Society is a hoax, the USGS said on its Facebook page.

The letter featuring the agency's logo claims, "California is issuing a statewide warning" and alleges that five communities — Westminster, Santa Ana, Long Beach, Newport Beach and La Habra — could experience a 7.4 magnitude "tremor," according to the Los Angeles Times

It's false. “USGS had no part in this letter or any alleged alert,” the USGS said. “USGS does not predict earthquakes. USGS distributes reliable and timely scientific information on earthquakes and makes it all available to the public.”

The hoax comes after a 5.1 magnitude earthquake struck the La Habra area Friday at about 9:09 p.m.

RELATED: 5.1 earthquake strikes near La Habra, Calif. (updated)

The USGS advised residents to check its website for timely, scientific information after a temblor, NBCLA reported. 

"The message of being prepared is always valuable," USGS said. 

USGS warning about hoax letter

Even though the USGS does not predict earthquakes, the Open Hazards Group spinoff of QuakeSim — a collaboration among the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, University of Southern California, Indiana University, UC Davis and UC Irvine, sponsored by NASA — has come up with a map that assesses the probability of an earthquake greater than magnitude 6.5 within 50 kilometers of a given site during the next year. The map is embedded below; for more information on QuakeSim, go to its website.