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Earthquake rattles homes in San Juan Mountain communities

Magnitude 3.6 quake with its epicenter near Rico struck about 7 a.m.
A 3.6-magnitude earthquake hit early Friday near Rico and shook small communities in the San Juan Mountains, including Silverton and Telluride. (Durango Herald)

An earthquake Friday morning with an epicenter near Rico was felt across a vast area of the San Juan Mountains, including in Silverton and Telluride.

The 3.6-magnitude quake struck about 7 a.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A second earthquake with a magnitude 2.2 followed at about 8 a.m.

No damage or injuries have been reported from the quakes that were reportedly felt by residents in Rico, Ophir, Silverton, Telluride and between Placerville and Sawpit. There were also no reports of the quakes causing avalanches.

“We absolutely, one hundred percent, had many locals feel physical shaking or rumbling in their homes this morning,” said San Juan County Emergency Management spokeswoman Deanne Gallegos. “People were reporting rumbling and house shaking. I had a friend say he felt like it was a big front-loader truck driving by.”

The shaking prompted a conversation on social media, Gallegos said. Several residents commenting on the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Facebook page reported feeling the quake.

“I literally commented to my husband that it felt like an earthquake in our living room around 7 a.m. this morning,” wrote Marissa Gudal. “We live in east Telluride.”

Kaye Simonson commented: “I thought I felt a little shake and rattle just after 7 a.m. this morning, wondered if it was an earthquake, and I’m between Placerville and Sawpit.”

“The fact that this is near the Dulce Plateau does not elude me,” wrote Gerald Geraldine.

Although the first earthquake was technically just outside Rico, Gallegos said that’s just a handful of peaks away from Silverton as the crow flies.

Silverton is built atop the Silverton caldera, which means the town sits on the “belly of an ancient volcano that imploded,” she said. “So we are literally sitting on top of what was a volcano around the time the Grand Canyon was formed.”

Although no damage has been reported yet, Gallegos said that could change.

“When you’re talking about old structures, some of these homes don’t have foundations,” she said. “One friend who doesn’t have a foundation said she felt her whole home shake. So we just don’t know that yet.”

She said that in the 13 years she’s lived in Silverton there have been conversations about rumblings felt in the past but nothing of this magnitude.


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