Media on all sides of the political spectrum gets clicks based on sensationalizing the facts. So maybe you heard about an enormous amount of quakes in Idaho? Should you be concerned? Let’s use one of our resources to get a reality check.
I first saw the headline over on WorldNetDaily in a linked article. 130 quakes in the week and maybe the big one is coming… or maybe not.
Going to the source (Idaho State Journal), the actual headline has been more recently updated and says “141 EARTHQUAKES SINCE SATURDAY NIGHT: Worst-case scenario is destructive 7.0 temblor but experts say that likely won’t happen.”
141 in less than a week sounds pretty bad, like a hole is about to open in the earth right in the heart of the Redoubt. But even the source headline adds a grain of truth by pointing out that “the big one” is considered unlikely by the experts.
Why don’t you go ahead and open up our Seismic Risk resource in another window? It’s in the menu above under Resources->Other Resources->Seismic Risk. Or use this handy link.
The part you should read is “Magnitude is Not Shaking.” Notice the conversion charts and how you need at least magnitude 4.5 before building damage is even a minor concern. Small quakes happen all the time and the don’t make news because even if folks felt it, there’s no lasting evidence. Even the 4.5 quake is going to hit shaking intensity with damage being either “None” or “Very Light.”
Separating Sensational from Real
Here’s the image from the source article:
Looks pretty apocalyptic, right?
Now try out that resource we link for tracking live earthquakes from the USGS.
I immediately zoomed on the SE Idaho area, opened the settings and toggled last 7 days all quakes. At the moment of writing, the quake count is up to 185.
Sounds bad, huh? Maybe folks shouldn’t move to the Redoubt?
Hang on! We need 4.5 magnitude for any damage at all. So let’s adjust to last 30 days with 4.5 magnitude.
That looks a lot better. We’ve got only four quakes now. Three of them could be down in the “No damage” range and the biggest might be in the “very light” damage range. (Actual damage depends on specific local dirt characteristics.)
Also, the biggest quake is up in the mountains. It may not have even affected a home.
But do all these small quakes mean the end is nigh? Remember that the “experts” who are predicting an end-of-days so severe on the hurricane coast that the second amendment is revoked are saying that they’re not even worried about the quakes here. You can be sure that if there was real concern, then the national powers would love to find an excuse to strip freedom-loving Redoubt folks of their firearms.
Let’s get one more look to understand what the real seismic risk is in the Redoubt. Leave the quakes at 30 day / 4.5+, but zoom out to see the whole Redoubt and turn on the settings checkboxes for “U.S. Faults” and “U.S. Hazard” and change the basemap to “Terrain” (to show mountains versus plains). Now what do we see?
This overlays the 2014 seismic risk maps also discussed in our resource. There is measurable seismic risk in any mountain area, that’s how the mountains got there in the first place. You can see the risk zones running right down the spine of the Rockies. Now, you could pick the plains and deal with tornadoes or hurricanes if you prefer. But the earthquake risks in the Redoubt region aren’t anywhere near as bad as, say, California. And we’re still waiting for the big one to dump that socialist haven into the ocean… any year now.
I’ve lived many places in the US over my life. On the Gulf Coast, hurricanes were an annual disaster to deal with, and they broke into tornadoes once they made landfall. The current Houston photos strike me as “not that much worse than the years I lived in that area.” And tornadoes tore apart some residences in the neighborhood. On the Pacific Coast, I’ve been in houses shaken by quakes, and forest fires were an annual fact of life. On the East Coast, we were constantly on the lookout for permanently debilitating diseases you can’t vaccinate against (like Lyme). Many friends and acquaintances were crippled by it. And lawyers were crawling through the region as well (literally half the billboards along the highways were ads to sue your neighbor).
The Redoubt is not risk free. But the combined risks are low enough that I worry far, far less than anywhere else in the US.