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When you think of earthquakes, Colorado is most likely not the first place that comes to mind. But earthquakes do in fact occur in Colorado, as the residents of the towns of Craig and Trinidad can attest. Both of these areas recently experienced earthquakes that were above magnitude 4.0 on the Richter scale—large enough to feel, but fortunately not so large as to cause significant damage or injuries.

Although most earthquakes in Colorado are relatively minor, the potential for a rare large earthquake does exist. On November 7, 1882, an earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 6.2–6.5 occurred in the mountains west of Fort Collins. The quake caused minor damage as far away as Denver, and it was felt throughout a wide area, including Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Kansas, and Nebraska.

A large earthquake occurs when there is sudden movement along a fault—a break in the earth’s crust. Colorado has about 90 potentially active faults.

Shaking Up Denver
In April 1962, the Denver area suddenly began experiencing a series of minor to moderate earthquakes. By 1968, more than 1,500 earthquakes had rattled Denver. The strongest of these quakes struck Denver on August 9, 1967. Measured at 5.3 on the Richter scale, it caused more than a million dollars worth of damage! Three months later, on November 26, 1967, a second strong quake hit with a magnitude of 5.2.

What do you think caused this sudden epidemic of earthquake activity? Click for the answer!

Colorado's Biggest Quakes: Click to see a list of Colorado's largest recorded earthquakes of the last 130 years.

Featured Link: National Earthquake Information Center
The National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) is located in Golden, Colorado. The NEIC pinpoints the location of destructive earthquakes all over the world and notifies governments, agencies, scientists, and the general public 24 hours a day.

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Photo credits: © Corbis Images, © NCAR, © NOAA, courtesy NEWS4, Colorado's news channel.