By David King, Campbell County Emergency Management Coordinator
If your coworker dives under their desk this morning….check the clock and see if it’s 10:17 a.m.
That’s the time for the annual Great American Shakeout, an annual earthquake awareness drill that is held each year on Oct. (10th month) 17, at 10:17 a.m. local time.
Yes, I know, if you’re in California or Western Wyoming, you’d take this seriously…but who cares in Campbell County?
First of all, are you in Campbell County exclusively? Earthquakes aren’t scheduled events, and you could be on vacation or business in an area that’s more prone to shaking. Shouting “I’m from NE Wyoming and we don’t have earthquakes, so stop it!” won’t help much when the ground is moving.
And yes, we don’t get many of them in NE Wyoming, but we do get them. Historically, there are 11 recorded earthquakes in Campbell County since 1967.
A list of them is buried within the 685 pages of the NE Wyoming Hazard Mitigation Plan, but to save you some page turning, I’ve pasted it here:
Table 4-21 Campbell County Seismic Events, 1976 – 2018
|Location||Date||Magnitude/Intensity||Damage or Injuries|
|SW Campbell County||5/11/1976||4.8||No|
|18 Miles East of Gillette||2/18/1972||4.3||No|
|33 Miles NE of Kaycee||9/2/1976||4.8||No|
|24 Miles SW of Gillette||5/29/1984||5.0||No|
|25 Miles SW of Gillette||10/29/1984||2.5||No|
|27 Miles West of Gillette||9/7/1984||5.1||No|
|SE Campbell County||2/24/1993||3.6||No|
|10 Miles East of Weston||9/4/2004||2.8||No|
|40 Miles West of Gillette||12/6/2008||2.5||No|
|North Campbell County||3/31/2009||2.6||No|
|7 Miles NE of Wright||1/20/2011||3.2||No|
Source: http://earthquake.usgs.gov and Wyoming Geological Survey
How bad can it get here? More from the Hazard Mitigation Study:
The Wyoming State Geological Survey conducted a study in 2011 to model loss estimations for 16 earthquake scenarios in order to quantify the magnitude of earthquake impacts around the state. The scenarios included four random event scenarios run on the basis of data from historic earthquakes that occurred near Casper, Gillette, Laramie Peak, and Estes Park (Colorado). Each of the historic, random event earthquake scenarios registered a 6.0 magnitude. The Estes Park Scenario was based on an event occurring in 1882, the Casper area event in 1897, and the Gillette and Laramie Peak events in 1984 (Source: Wyoming Geological Survey, “Wyoming Earthquake Hazard and Risk Analysis: HAZUS-MH Loss Estimations for 16 Earthquake Scenarios, 2011)
The Gillette area historic earthquake scenario had the most impact on all counties in Region 1, with the most significant effects felt in Campbell and Johnson County. The earthquake scenario was modeled at magnitude 6.0. Scenario results estimate that light damage would be expected up to 14 miles from the epicenter, with very light damage expected out to 42 miles. The scenario results estimate that no households would be displaced, and no one would seek temporary shelter. There are 25,836 buildings in the area and scenario results show that 96 of those would sustain at least moderate damage from the earthquake. The earthquake would generate 1,000 tons of debris.
The modeled earthquake in the Gillette historic earthquake area would cause a total economic loss of $3.86 million dollars for the region.
There are not any active faults within the region, but previous occurrence data indicates potential for damaging seismic activity in Campbell and Johnson counties. In summary, within Region 1, the two counties have the highest level of susceptibility and structural exposure. Though the probability is low, WSGS studies indicate the possibility of a 6.5 magnitude could occur anywhere in the state.
Okay…with all of that said…what should you do when the ground starts shaking?
A really good information source can be found at https://www.safety.com/earthquake-safety/.
Avoid making these mistakes during an earthquake
Experts at the University of Washington and most rescuers caution against making these mistakes during an earthquake:
- Do NOT run outside or to other rooms during the shaking. An earthquake’s shaking can cause you to fall down. You may also run into flying and falling objects that could cause serious injury.
- Do NOT stand in a doorway.Doorways in modern homes are not stronger than other parts of the house, contrary to widely-held belief. In a doorway, you’re also at risk of being struck by falling or flying objects, the most common source of earthquake injuries.
- Do NOT get in the “triangle of life”(getting next to a table rather than under it). Experts argue that “triangle of life” recommendations are based on wrong assumptions about what actually happens during an earthquake and it unpredictability. The safest bet to get underneath a table or desk.
Oh, and by the way, if your coworker hasn’t emerged from under their desk shortly after today’s drill time, you might want to check and see if they’re napping, hoarding cookies, or something – or maybe you might need to call an ambulance as they’re not as limber as they thought they were.