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Two Earthquakes Hit Montana, Both Felt in Missoula

Montana from Sky
Photo courtesy of Space Ritual/Flickr

Two earthquakes managed to shake attentive Missoulians between late evening Wednesday June 5, and early morning June 6.

“The first occurred over west of West Yellowstone in the southern Madison Valley near Earthquake Lake,” said Director of the Earthquake Study Office at the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Mike Stickney. “It was a magnitude 3.3 that was felt by a few people over in Missoula. That quake occurred at 8:09 P.M. Then at 6:41 a.m. there was an earthquake centered over just southwest of Clinton, Montana near the mouth of Rock Creek.”

Stickney said the Clinton earthquake was only a magnitude three and was just in the range of being large enough for people to feel. Montana only gets about 15 earthquakes a year with magnitudes high enough for people to feel, so having two in the same 24-hour period is not typical. On the other hand, the state is hit by around four to five earthquakes everyday that are not felt.

Montana may have regular small quakes, but the larger shake-ups have been few and far between. The last magnitude five quake was in 2005 near Dillon and the last magnitude six-plus quake occurred in 1959.

“The belt from the Flathead lake down through the Missoula/Helena area and on down to Yellowstone park is part of what is known as the inter-mountain seismic belt,” Stickney said. “It’s a zone of frequent smaller earthquakes and occasional larger earthquakes. There’s a number of potentially active faults in that zone.”

Both of the earthquakes occurred about six miles beneath the surface. There have been no reports of any injuries or damaged property from the two recent earthquakes.

Mike Stickney

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