Idaho Earthquake Swarm: 141 Earthquakes And Idaho Is Still Shaking [Opinion]

Idaho's Redfish Lake

The Idaho earthquake swarm began Saturday night just before 6 p.m. Then the ground around Soda Springs continued to shake with 34 earthquakes Saturday night and 34 more on Sunday. Monday there were 28, and 20 were felt on Tuesday. There were another 25 quakes on Wednesday, according to the Idaho State Journal.

So far, Idaho’s earthquake swarm has caused no real damage or injuries. The largest of the earthquakes was a 5.3 on Saturday. Jim Pechmann, a University of Utah seismologist, told HJ News that earthquakes of that magnitude usually don’t cause damage.

“We usually start seeing damage around 5.5.”

Idaho’s earthquake swarm isn’t the only swarm. Yellowstone is now experiencing the “largest earthquake swarm ever recorded,” according to Catholic Online. Yellowstone National Park has measured 2,357 earthquakes from June through August 30 of 2017.

Are the Idaho and Yellowstone earthquake swarm phenomena related? How about the earthquake swarm in Bardarbunga, Iceland?

An earthquake swarm was detected in Bardarbunga, Iceland, on September 7 with the strongest quake measured at 4.1. Bardarbunga is a stratovolcano located under Iceland’s most extensive glacier. Bardarbunga is the second highest mountain in Iceland, and is also an active volcano that last erupted in 1910. There have been 26 eruptions in the last 11 centuries, according to the Iceland Monitor.

The Yellowstone earthquake swarm is related to volcanic activity within Yellowstone’s super-volcano. There has been no recent volcanic activity detected within Bardarbunga, however. Why is Idaho being stricken with an earthquake swarm? They don’t even have a volcano.

The Idaho earthquake swarm is unprecedented in the area. While there has been some seismic activity in years past, there has been nothing in their history to parallel the quake swarm of recent days. Still, the area is seismically active, so this shouldn’t be considered abnormal according to the Idaho Statesman.

Soda Springs Idaho water treatment facility at the Phosphate Mine

While the Idaho earthquake swarm, with its many small quakes, has inspired much speculation about possible causes, the Idaho Statesman wants to put the concerns to rest. Experts want to assure the public that these earthquakes cannot be related to Yellowstone or the recent nuclear tests by North Korea.

Shannon Kobs Nawotniak, who is Idaho State University’s assistant professor of geosciences, explained to the Idaho Statesman what is causing the Idaho earthquake swarm.

“Foreshocks, aftershocks, and swarms are all very normal for earthquakes. It will take a little while for the rocks to finish settling into new positions, and each wiggle as it settles into place is giving us another small earthquake.”

Yellowstone super-volcanio diagram

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So an earthquake swarm like the one in Idaho can occur as the ground settles again after an earthquake.

[Featured Image by B. Brown/Shutterstock]