Journal article Open Access

The December 1872 Washington State Earthquake

Bakun, W. H.

The largest historical earthquake in eastern Washington occurred on 15 December 1872. We used Modified Mercalli intensity (MMI) assignments for 12 twentieth-century earthquakes to determine attenuation relations for different regions in the Pacific Northwest. MMI attenuation for propagation paths east and west of the Cascade Mountains differs significantly only for epicentral distances greater than about 225 km. We used these attenuation relations and the MMI assignments for the 15 December 1872 earthquake to conclude that its epicentral region was east of the Cascade Mountains near Lake Chelan, Washington, and most probably near the south end of Lake Chelan. The intensity magnitude, MI, is 6.8 and moment magnitude, M, is 6.5-7.0 at the 95% confidence level.
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