Remembering the Scotts Mills Quake of ‘93

September 14th, 2011

With the (sort of) recent earthquake in Virginia, I was reminded of our last significant shaker here in Oregon, the Scotts Mills (or “Spring Break”) quake of March 25th, 1993 with a registered magnitude of 5.6. It was my junior year of college and our school observed spring break a week before most schools. I happened to be extremely sick at the time, so when the rumbling started in the early hours (5:34 AM to be exact), I remained in bed. Really, the shaking didn’t last all that long — I’m guessing just 10 seconds. It sounded like a freight train was passing by my window though. I had one of those cheap chipboard shelves in my dorm room and had a TV sitting it. It really freaked me out to see it swaying dangerously back and forth. Overall, the quake did little damage and there were no serious injuries. In Salem, the State Capitol building needed repairs due to some cracks in the wall of the rotunda. There was a bridge in McMinnville that was damaged and an elementary school that had to be condemned. In total, FEMA reported 16 residences and 54 businesses sustained major damage. There are no known faults in the Scott Mills area; however the Mt. Angel fault is not far away. As a side note, while I was researching a history project in college I came across an article from the late 1890s about strange geological occurrences in Scotts Mills — something like liquefied sand spurting from the ground. Not sure if this might be related to a fault line in the area, but it made me wonder about the unknown dangers lurking under that part of the Willamette Valley.

The only other time I experienced a significant earthquake was in 2001, when the office building I was working in shook pretty hard from a quake in Washington. That quake was probably more like the one experienced out on the East Coast.

Entry Filed under: Science

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