Letter: Idaho quakes

May 4, 2014 

Recent earthquakes near Challis are the largest in Idaho since 2001. It is welcome that USGS is deploying portable seismographs.

There would be little need to field portable seismographs if a 20-station Idaho seismic network operated until 2005 was still reporting. That network was relayed in real time and had a station within 10 miles of the current activity. There were three more within 35 miles. It had everything needed to evaluate the present swarm.

That effort, funded by Idaho Power, the Union Pacific Foundation and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, apparently was for nothing. Western and Central Idaho monitoring stopped when state and federal funding collapsed.

The USGS coming out now, after the earthquakes, seems a little like trying to close the barn door after the horses have gotten out.

Idaho seismic monitoring is a farce. The state and the federal government should be ashamed to claim there is an adequate level of monitoring in most of Idaho. More could be learned if the pre-2005 network was resumed before the next big earthquake than by simply reacting to the latest one. Lives and property are at risk.

JAMES ZOLLWEG, Boise

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