Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Earthquake felt in valley Monday

Several temblors shake ground near Challis

Express Staff Writer

    Wood River Valley residents said they felt a 4.6 magnitude earthquake that was recorded 14 miles north of Challis at 2:16 p.m. Monday.
    A minor shuddering was reported in Ketchum, but stronger shakes were felt farther south.
    Rachel Lee, who lives in western Hailey, said she could feel her whole house shaking.
    “It felt like somebody had hit my house with a violent noise,” she said.
    Debbie O’Neill, who lives in Indian Creek north of Hailey, said a couch she was on shook back and forth.
    Lailani Jones, who lives along the Salmon River 20 miles downstream from Stanley, and about 40 miles from Challis, called the quake “quite significant.” She guessed that it lasted about seven seconds, with a small aftershock. She said the deck of her log house was swaying.
    “It was a good, long shake,” she said.
    Maritt Wolfrom, a teacher at Wood River High School in Hailey, said she and her students felt shaking in her classroom.
    “I felt a shimmy in my chair and noticed that my computer monitor and desk were slightly vibrating,” she said. “ … The kids described how their desks and chairs also seemed to vibrate.”
    The quake was the third recorded near Challis in the past week. A 4.1 magnitude quake was recorded on Thursday, April 10, and a 4.9 quake early Sunday morning. According to the Custer County Sheriff’s Office, none of the recent quakes caused damage or injuries.
    Mike Stickney, director of earthquake studies at the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, said Tuesday that 48 quakes have been recorded near Challis since March 24. Most were very minor, ranging from only 1.5 magnitude.

It was a good, long shake.”
Lailani Jones
Custer County resident

    Stickney said the area is part of the Intermountain Seismic Belt, which runs from near West Yellowstone, Mont., through Yellowstone National Park and south into the Wasatch Mountains, with a branch into central Idaho. He said the belt is not a specific fault line, but an area of high seismic activity.
    He said that given the Challis area’s location, a flurry of earthquakes is not surprising there, though he’s not aware of any specific mechanism driving the current activity.
    Stickney said the Challis quakes are not connected to a 4.8 magnitude quake in Yellowstone on March 30. The park sits atop one of the world’s largest super-volcanoes.
    “This activity is quite distant from that activity, and well outside any volcanic influence,” he said.
    Minor quakes are very common worldwide.  According to, there have been 34,655 earthquakes in the world during the past year.
    The strongest earthquake ever recorded in Idaho was a 6.9 quake that occurred near Borah Peak in the Lost River Range on Oct. 28, 1983. It caused two deaths in Challis and an estimated $12.5 million in damage in the Challis-Mackay area.

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