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Small earthquake hits northwest of Helena

No injuries or damage reported
Posted at 11:36 AM, Jan 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-31 13:36:26-05

A mild earthquake rattled the area several miles northwest of Helena on Thursday evening.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey , the quake hit at 8:47 p.m., and registered as a magnitude 3.3. It was centered about 4.4 miles east of Marysville and 11 miles northwest of Helena. It was recorded at a depth of about 3.1 miles.

Several people in and around the area posted on MTN News Facebook pages:

  • Deziah Gilliam: "Shook out of bed. Haven't felt aftershocks YET"
  • Mike Alkire: "felt it here in canyon creek"
  • Tara Womack Hanna: "That's why the dog freaked!"
  • Eric Taffs: "Mostly heard it, the feel was more of a vibration like a roller compacting nearby."
  • Allison Nelson: "I felt it in birdseye. My whole bed jolted!"

There have been no reports of injuries or damage.



BACKGROUND: According to the USGS, Montana is one of the most seismically-active states in the country, although the vast majority of recorded earthquakes are very small, causing no damage and rarely noticed by people.

Montana is located within the Intermountain Seismic Belt, an active earthquake region stretching along the Rocky Mountains. It is the fourth-most seismically active state, although the vast majority of earthquakes in Montana are too small to be felt.

But there are exceptions. About 90 years ago, a large earthquake hit southwest Montana. The quake damaged a school house in Three Forks, twisted railroad tracks along the Missouri River, and damaged a jail in White Sulphur Springs.

Ten years after that another big quake hit Helena, killing two people and causing millions of dollars in damage. It damaged churches, collapsed walls right out of homes, and hit commercial and government buildings as well.

In July 2017, a magnitude 5.8 quake struck several miles southeast of Lincoln, causing some damage but no injuries.