Is Idaho At Risk For Earthquakes?

Recent earthquakes on the West Coast have prompted many questions about the possibilities of earthquakes occurring in eastern Idaho.

Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey said three earthquakes have been recorded off the West Coast of North America. The coasts of Mexico, Oregon and central California fell victim to the tremors.

Local geologists said much of eastern Idaho is located near a fault line or a break in the North American tectonic plates. The city of Rexburg is actually located on the fault line itself.

"The fault probably isn't one that we would worry as much about in terms of frequency of earthquakes, compared to say, the Teton fault near Jackson Hole," said David Rodgers, associate dean of the College of Science and Engineering at Idaho State University.

Seismologists said eastern Idaho experiences a significant amount of seismic activity because of its geographical location, but a good portion of it goes unnoticed. However, researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey said the chances of a big earthquake hitting the area are low.

"The increased activity over the last couple of days (on the West Coast) does not mean that Idaho is at an increased chance of having an earthquake now," said Katherine Whidden, research seismologist at the U.S. Geological Survey.

Seismologists said there hasn't been any increased activity levels in eastern Idaho in the past week, despite the recent earthquakes on the coast.

The largest earthquake ever recorded in Idaho - both in terms of magnitude and damage - was the Borah Peak Earthquake in 1983.

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