Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

CIRES Expert Available to Talk About Colorado/Washington, D.C. Earthquakes

CIRES Expert Available to Talk About Colorado/Washington, D.C. Earthquakes


CIRES Fellow Anne Sheehan who has studied earthquake activity in southern Colorado said she was not too surprised when a 5.3 magnitude quake struck about nine miles west of Trinidad last night about 11:46 p.m. “This particular area has had quite a few small earthquakes, especially in the past 10 years,” said CU Boulder Professor Anne Sheehan of the geological sciences department and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. “For Colorado, this is usually where the action is.”

The quake was the largest in Colorado in several decades and was felt from Fort Collins to Garden City, Kan. The earthquake occurred about nine miles southwest of Trinidad and about 180 miles south of Denver, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center in Golden.

In 2006 Sheehan began a CU Boulder project sponsored by the National Science Foundation to place GPS instruments at 24 sites along the Rio Grande Rift in Colorado and New Mexico to measure the ground movement and earthquake potential, an effort that continues today. The Rio Grande Rift is a region that reaches from central Colorado to Mexico and is characterized by the spreading and thinning of Earth’s crust and associated with several moderate to large earthquakes dating back thousands of years.

In addition, CU Boulder has teamed with the state of Colorado to “adopt” several seismic instrument stations set up in Colorado as part of the NSF’s EarthScope effort, said Sheehan. One of the adopted stations is near Trinidad and was chosen because of the recent history of earthquake activity there. The project also involves Colorado College and Colorado State University. The results of the study are to be published in an upcoming edition of the journal Geology. Sheehan also can talk in general about the earthquake that struck near Washington, D.C., today.

For more information contact Sheehan at 303-492-4597 or afs@cires.colorado.edu. Or contact Jim Scott in the CU Boulder news services office at 303-492-3114.

For more information on Sheehan’s Rio Grande Rift project click here.


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