A cluster of earthquakes was recorded early Wednesday off the coast of Oregon, 300 miles west of Newport but caused no damage, according to the US Geological Survey.
The agency recorded nine earthquakes within five hours, with three occurring just minutes apart. The first earthquake was recorded at 2:54 am and had a magnitude of 3.8. By 7:01 a.m., eight more were injured.
The data shows that the largest earthquake in the series occurred at 4:56 am and recorded a magnitude of 5.6 on the Richter scale.
No tsunami threats have been reported, said Joanne Gomberg, a seismologist with the US Geological Survey in Seattle.
“Nothing really alarming, and these are relatively small, especially given their distance from shore,” said Jomberg. “To create a tsunami, you need the sea floor to rise up or down, in which case, the sea floor is trending sideways.”
According to Jomberg, the earthquakes occurred along the Blanco fracture zone, a fault between two tectonic plates that runs about 300 miles northwest of the Oregon coast and tends to generate a lot of small earthquakes.
The Blanco Fault Zone should not be confused with the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a fault that stretches 600 miles along the West Coast, from northern California to British Columbia, and is capable of causing devastating earthquakes of magnitude 9.0, Gomberg said. The Cascadia Subduction is located approximately 200 miles off the coast of Oregon from the Blanco Fracture Zone.
In subduction zones where two tectonic plates collide, forcing one plate under the other, plate movement can create mountains and volcanoes and lead to major earthquakes and tsunamis. Gomberg said tectonic plates in the rifting zones move side by side and parallel to each other, resulting in much smaller earthquakes on average.
“This is very far from the subduction zone, and the rifting zone is a completely different structure,” Gomberg said. “This is by no means an exceptional activity.”
– Catalina Gitan
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