Earth Shakes Beneath RL Resident

Eleanor Guerrero
CCN Senior Reporter
Thursday, April 18, 2019
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Courtesy map
A recent U.S. Geological Survey Map showing quakes in Montana.

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Courtesy photo
Tremors happen in Montana pretty regularly. A Red Lodge resident wonders if earth tremors broke her floor tiles recently.


Thursday morning, April 4, strange noises were heard by Red Lodge resident Katy Kern at her home by Two Mile Bridge and the house shook. When she looked at her floor there was a huge crack in the tile. 

“I’ve lived in California and I know what an earthquake is,” Kern said. “And it sounded like an earthquake.

“It sounded like this area of my home, the entrance area, was creaking, and items on nearby laundry room shelves were being shaken, so I'd say a combination of rattling and creaking!”

Kern said, “At first I thought it was my cats jumping around and chasing each other, but they weren't there...they calmly observed me frantically scurrying around trying to figure out what was happening. It happened twice a few minutes apart ... Between 7:30 and 9 a.m.”

A repairman will be coming to repair and replace the broken tiles. 

An inquiry was made to Mike Stickney, Director of Earthquake Studies Office, at the Montana Bureau of Mines, earthquake 

Stickney said, “I have just reviewed our earthquake locations for April 8th but find no earthquake activity in the Red Lodge area. Also nothing in the surrounding region that should have been large enough to feel at Red Lodge.”

When shown the photos of the broken tiles he said, “Certainly any earthquake strong enough to cause damage to a floor would have been felt by others in the area. It must be a very local cause. Perhaps something like swelling clay getting wet in the spring melt out or a landslide?”

The U.S. Geological Survey map shows that two weeks ago there were days of 2.3 and 3.3 quakes outside Dillon and Helena. A 2004 State of Montana update to the Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan and Statewide Hazard Assessment sees Carbon County as low in quake potential but notes, “Although it has been over four decades since the last destructive earthquake in Montana, small earthquakes are common in the region, occurring at an average rate of 7-10 earthquakes per day.” It states that seismic events may lead to landslides, uneven ground settlings, flooding and damage to homes…” lists the latest Montana quakes for that period. It states four quakes occurred in Montana that day: WNW of Manhattan, ESE of Lincoln, N of West Yellowstone and N of West Yellowstone. They registered 2.0, 1,3m 1.9 and 1.8 respectively. 

It may be of comfort that the report finds that thousands of faults have been mapped but only 95 have been active in the past 1.6 million years. The largest earthquake in Montanan was the 1959 Hebgen Lake event which caused more thant $11 million in damage. 

“We’ll see what’s happening underneath when he pulls up the tiles,” Kern said. In the meantime, she wonders, “Has anyone else heard the noise or felt the tremor last week?” 

Stickney recommends, “Here is a link to the USGS website that is not customized to just the Montana region:”

U.S.G.S. has a “Do you feel it?” page where you can report your own earth tremors at: