Aftershocks from Lincoln quake could be long-term


Missoula, Mont. - Another three aftershocks occurred Sunday around the area of Thursday's 5.8 magnitude earthquake. The highest measured 3.2 on the Richter scale. The area around Stemple Pass Road has remained seismically active ever since the quake. Some research suggests it could be for a while.

In 2009 Seth Stein and Mian Liu, professors from Northwestern and Missouri, published a paper that turned some conventional thinking upside down when it came to earthquakes.

You can read a summary of that paper here.

Stein and Liu were able to show that slow moving faults will take longer to stabilize after a large earthquake. Faults in Montana move at a much slower pace than the famous San Andreas Fault in California. Aftershocks on the San Andreas are gone after a few weeks. Stein and Liu say aftershocks are likely still being felt today from the Hebgen Lake earthquake of 1959 as that fault tries to stabilize itself. The also say that aftershocks from the New Madrid quakes that occurred in Missouri during 1811 and 1812 are still being felt today.

This means that little earthquakes in the same area as Thursday's quake could keep happening for a while, potentially decades. It also means that large numbers of small earthquakes may not be a sign that "the big one" is coming soon, rather quite the opposite. You can read more about what's true and what's not about earthquakes by clicking here.

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