Accidental alert issued for major California earthquake from 1925

Los Angeles Times story by 'Quakebot' reported on the "errant earthquake notification"

Accidental alert issued for major California earthquake from 1925

Image: USGS

A Los Angeles newspaper yesterday reported that a major 6.8 earthquake had struck off the Californian coast... in 1925.

The Los Angeles Times headline originally stated that the quake had struck near Isla Vista, an area along the state's south-west coast.

The story was swiftly updated to highlight that the earthquake actually happened almost a century ago.

The culprit for the erroneous report was Quakebot - an automated software programme designed to report on earthquakes when official alerts are issued.

In a statement on Twitter, the newspaper wrote: "We just deleted an automated tweet saying there was a 6.8 earthquake in Isla Vista. That earthquake happened in 1925.

"We have an algorithm (Quakebot) that automatically writes stories about earthquakes based on [United States Geological Survey] alerts. The USGS alert was incorrect."

In their own statement, the USGS explained the "errant earthquake notification" was sent as a result of a revision of the historic earthquake data.

The organisation added: "[It] was misinterpreted by software as a current event. We are working to resolve this issue".

The Santa Barbara earthquake of June 29th, 1925 caused significant damage in the Californian city, and left 13 people dead.