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Swarm of Five Small Quakes Off Oregon Coast Last Week

Published 04/19/2017 at 6:23 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Swarm of Five Small Quakes Off Oregon Coast Last Week

(Waldport, Oregon) – A string of five small earthquakes rattled off the Oregon coast this last week, with four on Saturday alone, and another slightly larger one on the Tuesday prior to that, on April 11. (Above: Graphic courtesy Pacific Northwest Seismic Network).

It's simply another case of the Cascadia subduction zone letting us know it's out there, say scientists. Essentially, it's more of the same slipping action the two plates do on a regular occasion. However, many residents on the central Oregon coast felt at least one of these rattlers.

The four on Saturday were centered about 60 miles west of Waldport. The first on Tuesday, happened about 130 miles west of Coos Bay, much farther south and way out beyond the shore. That one was the largest, clocking in at a 4.1 magnitude at a depth of 6.2 miles, happening at 6:45 in the evening.

The first of the swarm on Saturday was the largest of that bunch, a magnitude 3.8 at 7:48 a.m., happening about 40 miles west of Waldport. This quake was felt by many residents in areas around Yachats, Waldport, Seal Rock and close to Newport. Several people on the Yachats Community page talked of feeling their homes being rattled.

The next three happened largely in the same spot and within two hours of each other.

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A second quake hit at 10:52 a.m. with a 1.8 magnitude, shaking at nearly 20 miles beneath the sea floor. The third came at 12:06 p.m. with a 2.7 magnitude at nearly 23 miles in depth. The fourth took place not long after at 12:53 p.m., a 2.4 magnitude quake that was centered 20 miles in depth.

No tsunami alerts were issued, and scientists say this is fairly normal in this region, although this many in such a short time is unusual.

The Cascadia subduction zone is where two of the Earth's plates meet, creating intense pressure as the two press up against each other. With all the Earth's plates moving at about the pace that a human fingernail grows, periodically that pressure gets released when a plate slips. This results in such tremblors as were felt recently.

Even though none of these were cause for alarm, officials and scientists are using the opportunity to urge the public to be ready for such disasters. A massive quake is expected off the Oregon coast sometime between now and the next 100 years, so it is imperative the public engage in disaster preparedness. On the Oregon coast, this also means paying attention to tsunami evacuation routes. See Live Earthquake, Tsunami Updates from Oregon Coast, Washington. B.C., California, Alaska.

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