Earthquakes in Utah

Magnitude three earthquakes have been shaking Utah for almost two months now, and we’re all wondering if it means a big one is about to snap.

Utah has many fault lines all around the state. Most of them are small, but there are a few big ones we worry about. According to Geology, a Utah geological survey, “Hundreds of small earthquakes are recorded each year in Utah,”. Small earthquakes happen every day, but we don’t feel them. Geology also mentioned, “The largest earthquakes as expected in Utah are in the magnitude 7.0 to 7.5 range, which take place about every 150 years,”. The last ‘big’ earthquake was about three hundred years ago.

According to Geology, earthquakes happen all over Utah, “…but most, as well as all of the larger earthquakes, strike in the Intermountain seismic belt (ISB). The ISB is a zone of heightened earthquake activity extending from Montana south to Northern Arizona,”. Utah lies right in the middle of the ISB zone. The ISB zone runs through Salt Lake and all the way through Saint George.

Shannon Briscoe, a science teacher at Bingham High School, says she thinks the magnitude three earthquakes aren’t necessarily a sign of the ‘big one’ happening. “The experts say no, so I’m going to go with what they say,” Briscoe said.

Because earthquakes are a force of nature, humans have no control over when one will strike. We also have no control over how big the earthquake will be. The best thing we can do is prepare ourselves for one. According to Briscoe, one way we can prepare is to try to stay out of the liquidation zones here in Utah. These are zones where the ground liquifies when an earthquake happens. Also, stay away from brick walls, for these tend to fall apart easily. A wall with wooden beams is a safer choice, because the beams are less likely to snap. One way Briscoe prepares for an earthquake (or any natural disaster) is by having a first aid kit in the back of her truck. It [the first aid kit] includes water bottles, food, and bandages.

Utah is known for its powdery snow and beautiful seasons, but it is also known for its ominous faultlines. Don’t forget that one of our biggest threats is right under our feet.