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Hector Leaves Few Scars

Hector, the most powerful earthquake to hit California in seven years rattled nerves but surprisingly not much else Saturday morning.

The 7.0 Magnitude tremor struck at about 3 a.m. near the desert town of Joshua Tree, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. It could be felt as far away as Las Vegas and San Diego, but as CBS News Corespondent Bill Whitaker reports, most in the quake's path are considering themselves lucky.

There was nothing like the devastation of the Northridge quake that rocked L.A.'s populous suburbs in 1994. According to the U.S. Geological Survey's Lucy Jones, "This was larger than Northridge, but nobody lives there [in Joshua Tree]. This is about as far away as possible."


AP
Colleen Broome was aboard the Amtrak Southwest Chief.

Out in the middle of nowhere, the 22-car Amtrak Southwest Chief train bound from Chicago to L.A. was shaken right off its track. Sleeping passengers were bounced out of berths, causing minor injuries. "It felt like the train jumped off the track and I fell onto the floor," says injured passenger Colleen Broome.

The engineer feels they were lucky. He was following a freight train at the time, so the train was traveling slower than usual.

The earth's shudder also shattered transformers, leaving 90,000 electric customers in the dark. And over a wide area from as far east as Las Vegas and south to San Diego, the quake gave many people the jitters.

In Anaheim, Calif., people at the Disneyland Hotel got an unwanted, hair-raising adventure. "It was an E-ticket ride," quipped one of the theme park's patrons.

Understanding Earthquakes:
One of the more frightening and destructive phenomena of nature is a severe earthquake and its terrible aftereffects.

CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports the city of Santa Monica shook for approximately two minutes.

Most residents said ceiling lights swayed. Some said their lawn sprinklers were triggered. Pools reportedly cracked and sloshed water out across the region.

This was one of a string of major Magnitude 7 and above tremors in recent months, following Turkey, Taiwan and Mexico. Experts say this seismic series may seem abnormal, but it's not.

Seismologist Kate Hutton explains that as far as typical quake activity goes, the earth is actually behind in the expected number of Magnitude 7 temblors.

People in Los Angeles are breathing a sigh of relief after the catastrophe near-miss -- but they're they not breathing normally yet. The big quake ended in seconds, but aftershocks followed by the hundreds, including a 5.8, a 5.3 and a 5.0.

The quaked has been named Hector after a mineral mining site in the California desert.

The Hector mine, which employs 18 people, is the largest commercial deposit of hectorite in the world, McGath said. Hectorite, named after the unincorporated San Bernardino County area where it is mined, is a mineral clay used for paint, cosmetics, caulking compounds, adhesives and printing inks.

The quake had no impact on mining operations at the site.

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