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Monday, July 29, 2019

Borah Peak Fault Scarp in Idaho formed during 1983 Quake

The thin tan line in this photo is the Lost River Fault Scarp, which runs for over 20 miles along the base of the Lost River Range in central Idaho. The scarp formed as result of a 6.9 M earthquake that occurred at 8:06 am on October 28, 1983. The quake was named the “Borah Peak Earthquake” because it happened near Borah Peak (12,662 ft.), the highest mountain in Idaho - the one on the left in this photograph. The photo was taken along the road to the Birch Springs Trailhead where hundreds of hikers come every year to begin their ascent of Borah (known locally as Mt. Borah).

The Lost River Range is a fault-block mountain range on the northeastern edge of the Basin and Range Province. Like Basin and Range Mountains in other states such as Utah and Nevada, these mountains formed one earthquake at a time over millions of years. During the 1983 quake the valley side of the fault dropped 9 feet and the block that includes the Lost River Range rose 6 inches, leaving the offset (scarp) shown in the photos.

The epicenter was located along the fault somewhere between the small towns of Mckay and Challis. Although it was the most energetic earthquake in the lower 48 since the 1959 Hebgen Lake Earthquake in southwestern Montana, there were only two deaths. Two children (ages 6 and 7) were killed in Challis when a brick wall collapsed on them as they walked to school. Shaking was felt in eight states and two Canadian provinces, lasting from 30-60 seconds.

Below: This photo, taken by Bruce Railsback of the University of Georgia, shows a person standing below the Lost River Fault Scarp (near bottom, center of photo). Bruce took the photo in in 1987, four years after the earthquake happened.

Links . . .

Newspaper coverage by the Idaho Statesman

Basin and Range Province (Wikipedia)

Climbing Mt. Borah (aka Borah Peak)

Fault-Block Mountains (Wikipedia)

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