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Small Quakes This Week Off Oregon Coast; Prineville and Welches Possible Volcanic Activity

Published 12/16/23 at 2:45 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Small Quakes This Week Off Oregon Coast; Prineville and Bend Volcanic Activity

(Brookings, Oregon) – A small earthquake struck off the south Oregon coast on Wednesday afternoon, clocking in at a 3.8 magnitude. While not an unusual occurrence in this region, it was a little unique in that it happened farther south along the Gorda Ridge, a little closer to Brookings than usual.

It was about 112 miles SW of Port Orford.

Oregon also saw a couple of other minor quakes on Thursday at Prineville and near Government Camp (near Welches), with the latter possibly related to routine volcanic activity.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the undersea quake hit some six miles deep at 2:15 p.m. No one has reported feeling it.

No tsunami alerts were issued: it takes at least a magnitude 7.0 to initiate a tsunami.

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Contrary to popular belief, these small but regular quakes in this area do not entail a releasing of pressure from the larger faultline. These have nothing to do with the greater Cascadia faultline, which will one day unleash a magnitude 9.0 on the region.

This fracture line is separate from the bigger Cascadia Subduction zone fault off the south Oregon coast, although they are close in the region. The Blanco area is where two plates are rubbing up against each other and occasionally release pressure that results in earthquake activity.

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They do not affect the larger fault offshore.

About 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, the USGS recorded a magnitude 2.8 “explosion” quake near Prineville, Oregon. This likely came from the area's rock quarry.

Just before 5 a.m. on Thursday, the USGS registered a tiny magnitude 0.8 quake a few miles northeast of Government Camp in Oregon, not far from Welches. Mount Hood is still an active volcano and has been for a good half a million years.

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Brookings, courtesy Oregon King Tides Project

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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