Geologists Say East Idaho Overdue For Damaging Earthquake

May 11, 2017

The U.S.Geologic Survey says a major earthquake is likely in southeast Idaho in the next 50 years. A display from a seismograph shows an earthquake that hit Virginia in 2011.
Credit Penn State / Flickr

A new report from the U.S. Geological Survey says southeast Idaho is overdue for an earthquake. Sometime within the next 50 years, USGS says the so-called “big one” will start rattling southeast Idaho along the Bear Lake Fault.

They estimate the likelihood of a magnitude 6.0 quake coming in the next half-century at 63 percent.

A team of consultants affiliated with Idaho State University who have modeled an earthquake in the region say any temblor over a magnitude 5.0 would cause damage totaling more than $250 million. Infrastructure and buildings in Oneida, Bear Lake, Franklin, and Caribou counties could all be damaged or destroyed when a big quake finally comes.

According to the Idaho State Journal, a 6.0 earthquake hit the small town of Wells, Nevada. In the small town of around 1,200 people, 700 buildings were damaged in the shaking and costs were in the millions. The town never fully recovered.

Along with damage to communities in the vicinity of the Bear Lake Fault, a large quake could also make remote towns even more isolated. Power lines, natural gas connections and cell towers could all be decimated in the shaking.

Officials in the region urge preparedness and cite a quote from Benjamin Franklin: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

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