Most of us in the Tri-Cities are familiar with Badger Mountain, but we may be less familiar with the surrounding mountains. This includes neighbors Candy Mountain and Little Badger Mountain, but it extends even further.
In fact, it extends a lot further. The majestic view from Rattlesnake Mountain shows a long, clear line of mountains, ridges, and hills from Rattlesnake to Red Mountain, Candy Mountain, Badger and Little Badger Mountains, and beyond. You might be wondering if there is some sort of geologic link.
Now, I’m no geologist, although I did take a geology class in college and I do spend a lot of time hanging around igneous rocks. However, a geologist did let me know that this long range of mountains from Rattlesnake to Wallula Gap form a pretty straight line and mark most of the Wallula Fault Zone.
As land is becoming more scarce, at least from a developer’s perspective, more and more homes are popping up on top of this major fault line. Is it a cause for concern? Well, according to Washington’s chief hazard geologist, even if the earth around here were to shake and move a bit, the risk is very low compared to what our friends on the West side face. The City of Seattle recognizes their heightened risk and has taken great strides in protecting buildings and roads against future catastrophes. They have even created a cool interactive online tool that can help with risk assessment and emergency planning.
That said, a quick search shows that we’ve had only two earthquakes of significance on this side of the state in the past 150 years; one of them was in Walla Walla, and the other was in Spokane. So, although I wouldn’t recommend that anyone build their home right on top of a known fault zone because there are plenty of other options, I’m sure there are plenty of people that would disagree with me. I guess you’ve just got to ask yourself one question, “Do I feel lucky?”
But, if the time does come for the earth to shake around a bit and you happen to live on the line, just don’t tell me it wasn’t your fault…