Earthquake Information

Chronological Earthquake Index

Desert Hot Springs Earthquake

TYPE OF FAULTING: right-lateral strike-slip
TIME: December 4, 1948 / 3:43 pm, PST
LOCATION: 33° 56' N, 116° 23' W 8 km (5 miles) east of Desert Hot Springs about 160 km (100 miles) east of Los Angeles
FAULT INVOLVED: South Branch San Andreas fault, or Banning fault, depending on nomenclature used

The Desert Hot Springs earthquake of 1948 not only was felt over a large area (as far away as central Arizona, parts of Mexico, Santa Catalina Island, and Bakersfield), but also managed to cause notable damage in regions far from the epicenter. In the Los Angeles area, a 5800-gallon water tank split open, water pipes were broken at UCLA and in Pasadena, and plaster cracked and fell from many buildings. In San Diego, a water main broke. In Escondido and Corona, walls were cracked. The administration building of Elsinore High School was permanently closed, due to the damage it sustained, as was a building at the Emory School in Palm City. Closer to the epicenter, landslides and ground cracks were reported, and a road leading to the Morongo Indian Reservation was badly damaged. In Palm Springs, the city hit hardest by the quake, thousands of dollars of merchandise was thrown from shelves and destroyed. Part of a furniture store collapsed. Two people were injured when the shaking induced a crowd to flee a movie theater in a panic. Numerous other instances of minor structural damage were reported. Fortunately, despite the damage brought on by this quake, no lives were lost.