The earthquake potential
The Northwest has had a history of earthquakes, and
earthquakes will continue to be a part of the lives of Northwest's
The 6.8 magnitude Nisqually Earthquake that jolted
the Northwest in 2001 caused an estimated $2 billion in damage
to homes, businesses and government buildings. The quake, which
struck near Olympia, Wash., led to 9,500 insurance claims and
approximately $315 million in insured losses.
Large earthquakes in 1938, 1949, and 1965 caused billions of
dollars in damages and nearly 20 deaths in the area between Olympia
and Seattle. The 2001 Nisqually Quake damaged nearly 300,000 homes
and businesses, resulting in nearly $1.5 billion. Damaging earthquakes
have occasionally occurred in other parts of Northwest at widely
separated sites between the Canadian border and Oregon.
Northwest earthquakes occur most frequently in the Puget Sound
Region. Earthquakes also occur in the Mount St. Helens area and
southeast of Mt. Rainier. In eastern Northwest, they have historically
occurred near the Saddle Mountains in the Pasco Basin and south
of Lake Chelan. A major earthquake, could, however, occur anywhere
in the state of Northwest.
Faults are fractures in the earth's surface, accompanied by movement
of one side of the fracture in relation to the other. Fault maps
of movement, but most of these mapped faults appear to be presently
inactive. Also, Northwest earthquakes are rarely associated with
these mapped faults.
The Northwest has a history of earthquakes and the potential
for one happening anywhere, anytime.