'If it can make a magnitude 2.3, it can probably make a much larger earthquake'

'If it can make a magnitude 2.3, it can probably make a much larger earthquake'

PORTLAND, Ore. - A swarm of small earthquakes on Mount Hood has captured the attention of state geologists and rattled the nerves of some nearby residents.

The quakes started Sunday evening and have been rumbling directly beneath the town of Government Camp.

Since Sunday, geologists have recorded nearly 3 dozen tremors. The largest one was only a magnitude 2.3, barely big enough to feel.

But it's not the size of the quakes that's intriguing the scientists: it's where they're happening.

They seem to be occurring right alongside a recently discovered fault.

"The fact that the earthquakes are defining a fault means that that fault is active, and if it can make a magnitude 2.3, it can probably make a much larger earthquake," said Ian Madin, chief scientist at the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.

Madin has been tracking this swarm since it began.

Unlike past seismic swarms on Mount Hood, he said this one is likely not tied to any volcanic activity.

He does not think the quakes are a pre-cursor to a future eruption.

But he explained now that geologists know there may be active fault close to government camp, they can keep a closer eye on it.