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Earthquake scientist gives his perspective on Idaho temblors

Dr. Austin Elliott works at the USGS Science Center in Northern California and was watching the Idaho quake and aftershocks play out on a variety of screens.

BOISE, Idaho — It will likely be a day that people talk about for the rest of their lives -- the earthquake that shook all over Idaho.

KTVB spoke to Dr. Austin Elliott, an earthquake scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey Science Center in Northern California shortly after the temblor struck the Gem State.

Dr. Elliott was working from home Tuesday evening as he watched the quake and aftershocks play out on a variety of screens.

We asked him to put what happened in Idaho into historical perspective.

"Large earthquakes, like the one you just experienced this evening, only happen every few decades within the state. And, of course, as you mentioned, the Borah Peak, the largest quake in 1983, was the last time most people, those who remember it, will have experienced an earthquake this large," Elliott said.

"Now a lot of people are asking us, there was the one in Salt Lake just a couple of weeks ago, there was one earlier today in the Yellowstone area, and then this one hit, is this potential for a ripple effect?" asked KTVB.

"So these earthquakes are, as much as we tend to think things are related to each other and, of course, everyone's in sort of heightened personal protection awareness mode right now, so risks seem elevated. But it's generally just coincidence, The earthquake that we had today and the earthquake in Salt Lake City last week are really far apart, hundreds of miles apart from each other on different fault systems. Far enough away from each other that their own stresses and effects really don't have that range to have an effect, so it really is just a coincidence," Elliot said.

There will be some more aftershocks to the quake this week, but Elliott stressed they will not be major. 

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