At least 50 Brookings residents reported feeling a small earthquake Friday afternoon that one official is calling “quite unusual” because of the epicenter –
on shore, about 4 miles northeast of Brookings.
“Most quakes in your area are usually generated about 100 to 150 miles off shore, along the subduction zone,” said Ian Madin, chief scientist for the Portland office of the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.
“An onshore earthquake in your area is quite unusual,” Madin said. “I’ve checked the historical data and there are virtually none recorded.”
The 3.3 magnitude quake, centered 4 miles north of Brookings and just east of Timeus Ranch Road, happened at approximately 1:35 p.m. The quake’s epicenter was 4 to 5 miles deep, which is considered shallow, Madin said. Several people in Crescent City reported feeling it, he said.
A “3.3 is on the edge of what people can feel,” Madin said. “It feels the same as the 5- and 6-point quakes that happen 150 miles offshore.”
On Monday a smaller quake, at 1.5 magnitude, was registered 17 miles south of Crescent City at a depth of 22 miles at 9:52 a.m.
Madin said the unusual quake in Brookings is not cause for concern. It was most likely an anomaly, happening along one of many smaller, shallower faults along the Oregon Coast.
“If it’s not followed by a bunch more, then there’s not much we can do about it in terms of studying it,” he said.
If more quakes happen in the same area, scientists may set up seismology equipment to locate and study the suspect fault, he added.
Within minutes of Friday’s quake in Brookings, seven residents called the Pilot to verify if there had indeed been a quake.
Almost 30 reported on the Pilot’s Facebook page that they’d felt it in Harbor and as far inland as 6 miles up Carpenterville Road and north to Cape Ferrelo.
“That was a weird earthquake,” wrote Stephanie Newman Ruda of Brookings. “We really thought a tree fell on our house. We were actually outside looking for the downed tree.”
“I felt it out on Oceanview (Drive),” wrote Jennifer Smith. “The ocean is going crazy today. I hope that wasn’t a pre-quake.”
Some noted the irony of the quake striking during the second of two major winter storms that have blown through the Southern Oregon cCoast in the past two weeks.
“Why not?” said Curry County Emergency Services Coordinator Don Kendall, who didn’t feel it in Gold Beach. “Let’s get it all at one time and get it over with.”
He noted that earthquake science is unpredictable at best, although the entire western coast is more than 300 years overdue for a disastrous quake from the Pacific Subduction Zone.
“This was a reminder that you live in a quake-prone place,” he said. “You’re overdue for a big one on the subduction zone, and you’ll know it when that happens. The best action is to head for high ground immediately (in case of tsunami).”