1983 Borah Peak earthquake

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1983 Borah Peak earthquake
Borah Peak with fault scarp seen
near base of tan hill in foreground
1983 Borah Peak earthquake is located in USA West
1983 Borah Peak earthquake
1983 Borah Peak earthquake is located in Idaho
1983 Borah Peak earthquake
UTC time 1983-10-28 14:06:09
ISC event
Local date October 28, 1983 (1983-10-28)   (Friday)
Local time 08:06 MDT [1]
Magnitude 6.9 Mw [1]
Depth 16 km (9.9 mi) [2]
Epicenter 44°05′N 113°48′W / 44.08°N 113.8°W / 44.08; -113.8Coordinates: 44°05′N 113°48′W / 44.08°N 113.8°W / 44.08; -113.8 [2]
Fault Lost River Fault [3]
Type Normal [3]
Areas affected Central Idaho
United States
Total damage $12.5 million [4]
Max. intensity IX (Violent) [4]
Landslides Yes
Aftershocks 5.6 Mw Oct 28 at 19:51 UTC [2]
5.5 Mw Oct 29 at 23:29 UTC [2]
Casualties 2 killed, three injured [2]

The 1983 Borah Peak earthquake occurred on Friday, October 28, at 8:06:09 a.m. MDT in the western United States, in the Lost River Range at Borah Peak in central Idaho.[5][6][7] The shock measured 6.9 on the moment magnitude scale and had a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent).


The event is the largest and most significant to strike in the state of Idaho. Two children were killed by falling masonry while walking to school in Challis,[5][6][7] about 120 miles (190 km) northeast of Boise, the state capital. Twelve and a half million dollars in damage took place in the Challis-Mackay region. As a result of extreme surface faulting, a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent) was decided upon, while vibrational damage was at a Mercalli intensity of VI (Strong) to VII (Very strong).[4]

Surface faulting[edit]

The rupture caused clear surface faulting; a 21-mile (34 km) long northwest-trending zone of fresh scarps and ground ruptures was present on a slope of the Lost River Range. Extensive breakage occurred along a five-mile (8 km) zone between West Spring and Cedar Creek; ground surface was literally "shattered" into tilted blocks, each several meters in width. These scarps were as broad as 330 feet (100 m).[4]


The Challis-Mackay region experienced rather thorough damage, with eleven commercial buildings and 39 homes sustaining major damage while another 200 houses suffered minor to moderate damage. Mackay in particular, about fifty miles (80 km) southeast of Challis, experienced the most severe damage. Most of the city's large buildings on its Main Street were damaged, to some extent; eight of these buildings were deemed condemned and closed down. Most of these buildings were built from materials such as brick, concrete block, and stone, each varying.[4]

Sand blows[edit]

Near Chilly Buttes of Thousand Springs Valley, a series of artesian fountains/sand blows erupted immediately after the main shock. Groundwater gushed from these fountains forming small craters and depositing aprons of light-colored sandy sediment around each crater.


  1. ^ a b ISC (2015), ISC-GEM Global Instrumental Earthquake Catalogue (1900–2009), Version 2.0, International Seismological Centre 
  2. ^ a b c d e USGS (September 4, 2009), PAGER-CAT Earthquake Catalog, Version 2008_06.1, United States Geological Survey 
  3. ^ a b Yeats, R. S.; Sieh, K. E.; Allen, C. R. (1997). The Geology of Earthquakes. Oxford University Press. p. 476. ISBN 978-0-19-507827-5. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Stover, C. W.; Coffman, J. L. (1993), Seismicity of the United States, 1568–1989 (Revised) – U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1527, United States Government Printing Office, pp. 216–221 
  5. ^ a b "Idaho quake measures 6.9, two killed". Spokane Chronicle. (Washington). wire reports. October 28, 1983. p. 1. 
  6. ^ a b Sher, Jeff (October 29, 1983). "Killer quake rocks Northwest". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. 1. 
  7. ^ a b "Quake jolts 8 states, kills 2 children". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). (Los Angeles Times). October 29, 1983. p. 1A. 

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