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Fourth small earthquake in 3 days hits Puget Sound area

UPDATED: Wed., Dec. 30, 2020

By Alex Iniguez and Christine Clarridge Seattle Times

An earthquake with a 3.2 magnitude reported Wednesday morning near Maple Valley is the fourth small quake in the Puget Sound area in the past three days, according to the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.

Wednesday’s earthquake occurred around 9:30 a.m., 5.83 miles southeast of Maple Valley, near Ravensdale.

On Tuesday morning, a small earthquake with a magnitude of 3.0 was reported near Carnation, one day after a smaller magnitude 2.2 quake was reported in the same location on Monday. The Carnation quakes came after a magnitude 2.9 earthquake was recorded about four miles from Monroe early Monday.

All four earthquakes have been reviewed by a seismologist, the seismic network said.

“It’s one more in the little series we have popping off right now and another reminder we live in a place with active earthquakes,” said Harold Tobin, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and a UW professor, of Wednesday’s quake.

With only one day left in 2020, Tobin said he hopes to see the year go out “with a whimper and not a bang.”

The Puget Sound region is prone to earthquakes because it lies near the edge of the North American tectonic land plate and the Juan de Fuca, an oceanic tectonic plate. The 700-mile boundary, a fault known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone, runs from Northern California to Canada. Scientists say the Juan de Fuca plate is trying to force its way under the North American plate, which they also say is ultimately inevitable.

Western Washington is also crisscrossed by more than a dozen large, shallow faults – cracks in the Earth’s crust capable of unleashing damaging earthquakes.

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