What Is North Dakota’s History With Earthquakes?
While the area may not be an epicenter for geological activity, it doesn't mean that we haven't experienced earthquakes throughout our state's history.
At least 13 earthquakes that were felt in North Dakota are mentioned in newspaper accounts and records from the National Earthquake Information Center of the U.S. Geological Survey.
The May 15, 1909 earthquake, which shook the Northern Great Plains at around 9 p.m., may have been the greatest felt earthquake in North Dakota. On the borders of Montana, North Dakota, and Saskatchewan, the epicenter of that earthquake was located at Avonlea, Saskatchewan. It shattered windows, damaged stonework, and broke plates. The Avonlea earthquake was felt in neighboring Canadian provinces as well as in North Dakota and western Montana.
North Dakota might have also seen some of the most intense earthquakes ever to hit the country. The tragic town of New Madrid, located in extreme southeast Missouri, gave its name to a series of three powerful earthquakes that took place on December 16, 1811, January 23, 1812, and February 7, 1812. From Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Rockies to the Atlantic coast, the greatest of these shocks were felt. There's still a chance that the New Madrid region will see another catastrophic earthquake.
Additional earthquakes that occurred in North Dakota and were felt include one in the southeast of the state in 1872, one in Pembina in 1900, three in the Williston area in 1915, 1946, and 1982, one in the Hebron area in 1927, one in Havana in 1934, and one in the Selfridge area in 1947. In 1975 and 1993, quakes with epicenters close to Morris, Minnesota, were felt in southeast North Dakota.