It’s been 11 years since Spokane felt a swarm of small earthquakes, but seismologists at the University of Washington have not forgotten about the city.
They are asking for volunteers willing to open their homes for installation of seismographs that can be linked by Wi-Fi to a large seismic network.
The hope is to provide precise data for any earthquakes that might strike the city in the future.
Currently, the only seismograph in the Spokane area is at Ferris High School, said Douglas Gibbons, a UW researcher who is coordinating the project for the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and an affiliated NetQuakes system.
“We’d love to come and throw down seven or eight more” seismographs, he said.
Gibbons is looking for volunteers with a good wireless connection, a suitable location, a willingness to provide access to the equipment and permanence of residence.
NetQuakes is operated by the U.S. Geological Survey. Volunteer sign-ups can be done by searching for the NetQuakes program on Google and following the links.
In 2001, a series of quakes rattled the North Side, including two that were widely felt – a 3.7-magnitude tremor on June 25 and a 4.0 quake on Nov. 11.
By the time the shaking died down, more than 50 quakes were documented. Most were felt only near the epicenters in relatively shallow rock near Corbin Park and the North Hill.
The occurrences in Spokane were followed by similar patterns in Maupin, Ore., from 2006 to 2008 and at Wooded Island on the Columbia River adjacent to the Hanford reservation in 2010 and 2011.
Scientists described those events as earthquake “swarms.”
Movement of the earth’s tectonic plates along the San Andreas Fault is compressing subterranean rock of Washington and Oregon, which exerts enough pressure to trigger the multiple quakes along small faults, Gibbons said.
Spokane’s risk of a large earthquake is small, he said, but the city could see a magnitude-5 quake someday.
Historically, the city has seen a similar pattern of shallow quakes in the past. Newspaper records showed reports of quakes in 1941, 1948, 1952 and the early 1960s, some of which were similar to 2001.
To volunteer for the NetQuakes project or to check on earthquake information, search for NetQuakes or go directly to earthquake.usgs.gov/monitoring/netquakes.
For the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, go to www.ess.washington.edu/SEIS/PNSN.>