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Nisqually, Washington Earthquake (magnitude 6.8)

February 28th, 2001

The Washington State Capitol was extensively damaged in the February 28th earthquake (note broken column above). It will be months and take millions of dollars to repair the damage. Photo courtesy Seattle Times.
John Beaulieu, Oregon State Geologist

“Lucky” may not be the first word that comes to mind after an earthquake that injured more than 500 and caused more than $2 billion damage, but it fits.

“Because this earthquake was centered more than 35 miles underground, much of the energy radiated out, instead of up. Because much of the energy was absorbed throughout the west in places like Baker City, Spokane, and even Salt Lake City, there was less damage than we would expect in a magnitude (M) 6.8 earthquake,” explains Oregon’s State Geologist, Dr. John D. Beaulieu.

Geologists call this an intraplate quake, a type that is only found in places like the Northwest where one plate is subducting, or sliding under another plate.

Learn more about subducting plates and the Cascadia subduction zone from USGS

People evacuated buildings throughout the Willamette Valley, as well as places along the north Oregon coast. Although there was no danger of a tsunami, many residents on the coast acted responsibly in heading for high ground when they felt the earth shake.

Learn more on the Nisqually earthquake ( 1 Mb PDF file)

Learn more about the Nisqually earthquake from:
The Nisqually earthquake has important implications for Oregon and is of concern for scientists, engineers, emergency managers and many others.

In an effort to learn from this earthquake and collect perishable data, the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries formed an investigative team. Some of the initial findings and photographs from the field reconnaissance have been published as an Open File Report .

Learn more about our field reconnaissance observations

Look at photos taken by the DOGAMI field reconnaissance team

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Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries
800 NE Oregon Street, Suite 965, Portland, OR 97232-2162
(971) 673-1555, FAX (971) 673-1562
email us at DOGAMI