Have you ever experienced an earthquake in Colorado? If you’ve been here a long time, you probably have, but it’s also likely you haven’t noticed. Many earthquakes occur in Colorado throughout the year, but most are not very strong. However, this is not always the case.
According to EarthquakeTrack.com, the largest earthquake in Colorado in recent decades was a magnitude 5.4 earthquake in the town of Parachute, Garfield County in 1973. Another, more recent, earthquake rivaled that magnitude, measuring 5.3 in the Trinidad region of southern Colorado in 2011.
For comparison, many of the world’s strongest earthquakes have magnitudes greater than 8.0, sometimes even greater than 9.0. Compared to the infamous California tremors, the Golden State’s strongest earthquake in the last 100 years was measured at a magnitude of 7.3 — with one hitting that threshold in 1952 and another in 1992. The strongest hit a magnitude of 7.9 in 1857.
In other words, earthquakes in Colorado are not quite as powerful as those found elsewhere in the country and around the world.
That said, some sources indicate that Colorado’s strongest recorded earthquake actually happened in 1882, when it reached a magnitude of 6.5 to 6.6. This occurred in the area from Fort Collins to Estes Park and was likely felt along much of the Front Range as well.
So far in 2022, Colorado has had 64 earthquakes, with the strongest measuring 3.0 on February 28 in southern Colorado and the most recent measuring 2.2 on November 5 near Portland, Colorado reached.
As can be seen on the map below, most earthquakes are localized to specific parts of the state. The most concentrated area is in the south near Trinidad.
In general, earthquakes below a magnitude of 3.0 go unnoticed by most, with a magnitude of 3.0 causing overhead objects to sway a bit – some likening it to the feeling of sitting in a car when you drive past a large articulated lorry. Meanwhile, Colorado’s strongest earthquake — 6.5 M — could have knocked items off shelves and caused isolated landslides in unstable areas.
So, there you have it — while Colorado doesn’t have all that many strong earthquakes, if you think you can feel the ground shaking in the Centennial State, chances are an earthquake is.
Visit the USGS website the next time this takes place and see for yourself.
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