The 1927 Lompoc Earthquake: In Brief
Late in the morning of November 4, 1927, Captain Williamson of the S. S. Floridian was startled to discover great quantities of dead or stunned fish floating on the surface of the Pacific Ocean, a few miles from Point Arguello. Captain Williamson was unaware of it at the time, but he was viewing the aftermath of an earthquake that had struck underneath the waters of the Pacific some five hours earlier.
The first signs of the impending trouble came an hour after midnight on the fourth, when residents of the coastal community of Casmalia were awakened by a small earthquake. Others soon followed, including an earthquake at 3:10 that was strong enough to awaken most of the inhabitants of Lompoc, and that was followed by three smaller earthquakes within half an hour. Finally, at 5:51 AM, stresses that had been building within the earth for decades were violently released.
The earthquake shook ships in the Pacific Ocean and was felt with greatest intensity along the coast of the Pacific, in western Santa Barbara County. Several hundred thousand cubic feet of sand underneath the tracks of the Southern Pacific Railroad shook loose and fell to the beach below. One person asleep near the coast was thrown from his bed, highways cracked, a bridge was thrown out of line, and there were numerous rock and dirt falls.
Farther inland, in the towns of Lompoc, Santa Maria, and Los Alamos, people awoke and rushed into the streets in their night clothes, chimneys collapsed, goods were thrown from shelves, windows cracked, and cornices of buildings fell.
Besides the dead fish noticed by Captain Williamson, other peculiar effects from this earthquake include a small tsunami that rolled in a few minutes after the largest earthquake.