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The 16 May 1909 northern Great Plains earthquake

January 1, 2011

The largest historical earthquake in the northern Great Plains occurred on 16 May 1909. Our analysis of intensity assignments places the earthquake location (48.81° N, 105.38° W) close to the Montana–Saskatchewan border with an intensity magnitude MI of 5.3–5.4. Observations from two seismic observatories in Europe give an average Ms value of 5.3. The 1909 earthquake is near an alignment of epicenters of small earthquakes in Montana and Saskatchewan and on strike with the mapped Hinsdale fault in Montana. Thus, the 1909 earthquake may have occurred on a 300-km-long seismically active fault, which could have seismic-hazard implications for the region, particularly for the hydraulically emplaced earth-filled Fort Peck Dam, constructed in the 1930s on the Missouri River in northeast Montana.

Publication Year 2011
Title The 16 May 1909 northern Great Plains earthquake
DOI 10.1785/0120110054
Authors W. H. Bakun, M. C. Stickney, Gary C. Rogers
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Index ID 70032705
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earthquake Science Center