The quake, initially registered at a magnitude 6.2, struck at a depth of 6 miles (10 km) and was centered near the town of Walker, California, about 150 miles east of state capital Sacramento, the USGS said on its website.
The quake was followed by a cluster of smaller tremors in the same region of the eastern Sierra Nevada range, the USGS reported. Weak to light shaking was reported as far away as San Francisco, some 200 miles (322 km) to the east, and as far west as the Nevada capital of Carson City, according to the crowd-sourced "Did You Feel It" map posted by the USGS.
"While there are no preliminary reports of damage or injuries, this is a rapidly evolving situation & more details will emerge in the coming hours," the California governor's Office of Emergency Services said on Twitter. "We are working closely with local officials to ensure they have the resources and support to rapidly respond to these earthquakes."
While earthquakes registering magnitudes between 5.5 and 6.0 are capable of causing some damage to buildings and other structures, Thursday's flurry of tremors struck in a relatively sparsely populated area.
Quakes of that size are not uncommon in seismically active California. But Thursday's temblor rattled local residents.
"It shook us good," Sue Wood, a waitress who was serving plates of hamburgers to customers at a general store in Smith Valley, Nevada, near the quake's epicenter, was quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle as recounting minutes afterward.
A loud crack was heard as the floor rolled, and then merchandise on store shelves shook for about 20 seconds, Wood told the newspaper, calling the incident "scary." Reporting by Steve Gorman and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Hogue and Sandra Maler