Colorado Quake Startles Residents, Damages Some Homes

A midnight Colorado quake, the strongest natural temblor to hit the state in more than a century, woke startled residents on Monday night.

According to experts in the field, the 5.7 magnitude earthquake, which struck at 11:46pm just outside of the southern city of Trinidad, CO, could be felt from Denver to the borders of Kansas and New Mexico.

While Colorado, with its mix of mountains and plains, sits astride a seismically stable part of the nation where quakes aren’t that common, the area around the city of Trinidad is regularly hit by temblors as a result of a local fault zone, but the majority of them are relatively small, USGS National Earthquake Information Center geophysicist Julie Dutton explained.

“It’s a seismically active area so it’s not unheard of that you would have an earthquake in this area,” Dutton told Reuters Tuesday morning from Golden, Colorado. “But to have a 5.3 anywhere in Colorado, let alone in this area, is rare.”

Dutton went on to say that even though the state of Colorado has experienced several earthquakes similar to Monday’s size in recent decades — a magnitude 5.3 near Denver in 1967 and a magnitude 5.7 in the state’s northwest corner in 1973 — both of those quakes were ultimately resultant from the activities of humans.

The 5.7 earthquake, though severe by Colorado standards, did not cause any major destruction or injuries save for some minor structural damage at homes near the epicenter and minor damages to highways nearby.

The last known natural event of comparable size was an earthquake in 1882 in what is now Rocky Mountain National Park, several hours northwest of Denver. That quake, based on historical reports, was about a magnitude 6.5, Ms. Dutton said.

The late night Colorado temblor is just one of a recent string of rare earthquakes to strike the United States, as earlier this afternoon, a 5.9 quake hit the east coast forcing the Pentagon and Capital buildings to be evacuated as a result.

via NY Times