It’s Scary How Many Earthquakes Rumble In Wyoming
We aren't even three weeks into 2024, and Wyoming has already had 94 earthquakes. There's a good chance you will feel only some of them, but they're happening.
I don't know if you've ever experienced an earthquake, but it is a weird experience. Everything around you starts shaking, and your legs get wobbly. Even when the shaking stops, your body feels like it's still rumbling. You may even get a feeling like you would if you were seasick, nauseous, and dizzy. It's not a pleasant feeling, and I wouldn't recommend it.
What may spook me the most about them is that, unlike a severe storm or tornado, you can't predict when or where an earthquake will hit. Sure, scientists may have a general idea, but it's not a 100% guarantee.
Earthquakes may be the most common natural hazard that we face. It's estimated that the National Earthquake Information Center tracks at least 55 earthquakes every day and upwards of 20,000 every year. Those numbers are just those that are tracked; earthquakes happen constantly.
The largest ever recorded in North America was a 9.2 in Alaska in 1964. Having an earthquake register higher than seven is rare, and above eight has only happened a few times.
In Wyoming, the largest that was ever recorded was a 7.5 in 1959, just west of Yellowstone National Park. Experts believe that an earthquake of that magnitude would only happen in the Western part of the state; the rest could experience an earthquake as big as 6.5.
Shakeout.org suggests that damaging earthquakes are possible anywhere in Wyoming.
Historically, Wyoming earthquakes are tied to faults that are buried. Buried faults are faults that have never broken the surface and are generally considered to be capable of generating up to magnitude 6.5 earthquakes. Since the distribution of buried faults is not well known and many faults remain unmapped in Wyoming, it is assumed that earthquakes up to magnitude 6.5 can occur anywhere in the state.
We've seen some pretty big quakes in Wyoming, but nothing really big since 1995
The fact that 2024 has already seen nearly 100 earthquakes, mostly in the northwest around Yellowstone, means we could have a shaky year.
Experts say, on average, Wyoming can have between 1,500 and 2,000 earthquakes per year. In 2023, we had 1,600 ground shakers, with the largest being a 3.7-magnitude.
Even though it's not likely for Wyoming earthquakes to be extremely severe, it's always a good idea to be ready for when one does hit.
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Gallery Credit: KATELYN LEBOFF