Historic Earthquakes

North Palm Springs, California
1986 07 08 09:20 UTC
Magnitude 6.1

This strong earthquake injured 40 people in the North Palm Springs area and caused property damage estimated at $6 million. Sixteen business structures and four houses were destroyed; 102 houses (mostly mobile homes) and 117 business structures were damaged to some degree. The earthquake disrupted electrical and telephone service, broke water lines and gas lines, and caused failure of two pumping stations in the Metropolitan Water District. North of Palm Springs, en echelon fractures formed along the Banning fault for a distance of about 9 km on both sides of State Highways 62. Several highways were closed temporarily by minor landslides.

Major damage to a highway bridge was observed on Interstate 10 in Coachella Valley northwest of Palm Springs. The bridge was displaced laterally, leaving a small gap between the deck and abutment. Three houses were destroyed and chimneys fell in the Whitewater Canyon area. Also sustaining damage was the Southern California Edison Devers substation, 3 km northwest of North Palm Springs. Many of the ceramic columns were broken at the substation, and one transformer was displaced about 4 cm, shearing retaining bolts. Several light aftershocks were reported felt. The main shock was felt over a large area, including parts of western Arizona, southern California, and southern Nevada.

damage photo
Adobe walls of a recently remodeled house in Whitewater Canyon, northwest of Palm Springs, California, cracked by the July 8, 1986, earthquake.(Photograph by G. Borchardt, California Division of Mines and Geology.)

Abridged from Seismicity of the United States, 1568-1989 (Revised), by Carl W. Stover and Jerry L. Coffman, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1527, United States Government Printing Office, Washington: 1993.