A sequence of two major earthquakes hit Ridgecrest, California, in July, triggering more than 100,000 aftershocks around Southern California. Photographer Mario Tama visited the neighboring Trona, about 170 miles north of Los Angeles, which had been rocked by the 6.4- and 7.1-magnitude tremors. There, he met Chimene and Johnnie Jackson, who were sleeping outside of her parents’ home on mattresses due to dangerous structural damage inside. Their tenderness on a shared mattress was a moment of respite during a hard week for residents. The town had struggled economically before the tremors hit, causing widespread blackouts, broken sidewalks, rockslides, and loss of drinking water.
The earthquakes surprised geophysicists monitoring fault lines in the state. The Garlock fault had remained relatively quiet for half a century, but researchers found in October that it had shifted .8 inches, sending a warning signal that another large quake could be on the way.