SPOKANE, Wash. -- Geologists visited Spokane Friday to talk about the potential earthquake hazard in the area. The study comes after dozens of small earthquakes occurred in Spokane a little more than 10 years ago.
The geologists said their purpose is not to alarm the public. They want to understand why 105 small quakes occurred beneath Spokane in a six-month period in 2001. The tremors caused the ground to bulge a half an inch near Gonzaga University.
In the spring of 2013, the U.S. Geological Survey conducted an airborne magnetic survey of the earth’s upper crust over the Spokane area to understand the reason for those quakes.
“You can see why we are a little bit concerned because if you took this little bulge and you suddenly move it on a fault that goes across City limits then you’ve got a big earthquake,” said U.S. Geological Survey Geophysicist, Richard Blakely.
The big earthquake is only a potential, adds Richard Blakely. He said preliminary interpretations of the survey confirm the presence of earthquake faults and reveal the possibility of previously unknown faults beneath the Spokane area.
Blakely said the USGS is working to know the probability of another series of earthquakes happening in Spokane. A similar episode has not happened in Spokane since 2001.
The scientists are also working to find out the probability of a large quake in the area.
The USGS is planning future studies but how soon they get underway is based on funding.