Experts: Major earthquake hitting Spokane area can't be ruled out, but less likely

The Great Washington Shake Out campaign aims to show people what they should do to survive and recover from an earthquake. Experts say people here need to be ready too. Alexa Block has more.

SPOKANE, Wash. - This week Washington State's Emergency Management Division is encouraging people to ready themselves for an earthquake.

The Great Washington Shake Out campaign aims to show people what they should do to survive and recover from an earthquake.

Brian Terbush, Earthquake and Volcano program coordinator for the Washington Emergency Management Division, said Eastern Washington does not have as many fault lines and seismic activity as the western said of the state. He still recommends people prepare on this side of the state.

“Washington is earthquake country. We have the second highest risk in the country just behind California, so anywhere you are an earthquake could happen at any time,” said Terbush.

Terbush said Eastern Washington is enclosed within areas with high seismic activity, Western Washington, Idaho and Montana.

Back in 2001, the Spokane area experienced an earthquake swarm over a period of months. 

"Earthquake swarms are series of earthquakes that happen over a period, it could be hours, it could be days, it could be months, but it doesn't really have the same structure as a main shock or aftershock that you might have in some of the more traditional earthquakes we've been seeing lately,” said Terbush.

Sixteen years later, questions are still swirling about what it meant.

"A lot of them that happened kind of focused on fluid moving under a fault underground, so it's water that can make a fault move a little more easily, but they just kind of happen and it's really not a precursor to anything,” said Terbush.

Terbush said a major earthquake hitting the Spokane area cannot be ruled out, but it is less likely than other parts of the Pacific Northwest. There are significantly more faults documented on the Western side of the state.  

A few years back, the U.S. Geological Survey discovered a fault line that runs through Spokane using new magnetic readying technology.

Terbush said there has been some research done on potential active faults in Eastern Washington, but there has not been very much.  He said it can be very difficult to study earthquakes and predict when and where they will strike. Researchers usually collect information after an earthquake.

To find tips on how you can prepare for an earthquake click here

© 2017 KREM-TV


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