My wife is from California, I’m from Washington. We both grew up learning about the dangers of earthquakes, and the likelihood of them happening. While she had far more experience with them actually happening than I did, I do remember having earthquake drills in school. Learning to stay away from the windows, and what would help protect me from the roof falling in. Living in Utah now, my son hasn’t had drills like that in his school, some might say because of the lower risk of earthquakes. We’ve had family lessons on how to react in the case of an earthquake, among other emergencies, but what do other people have to say about earthquakes in Utah? What would be the general populations reaction?Well, what does our state government have to say about that?
Utah has experienced 16 strong earthquakes (greater than magnitude 5.5), some of which caused considerable damage, since pioneer settlement in 1847. In addition, geologic studies of Utah’s faults indicate a long history of repeated “Big Ones” of magnitude 6.5 or greater prior to settlement. These large earthquakes can cause substantial loss of life and damage buildings and infrastructure. Therefore, “if you live or work in Utah, you need to know what you can do before, during, and after an earthquake to be safe and protect your property,” says Robert Carey of the Utah Division of Homeland Security.
I was recently pointed to this great video provided by the Utah Geological Survey. If you’ve ever wanted a little more information about the reality of earthquakes in the Utah area, this is a must-watch video. Of course, since I’m a geology geek, this was just fascinating to watch. They use the popular Google Earth tool to point out important aspects of Utah’s Fault-line network. Just how close do you live to one of these? Do you cross any on your way to work?
For more information, you can also check out the Utah Seismic Safety Commission, that hosts a pamphlet you can download: Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country, as well as some earthquake probability maps, with more of the local fault lines.
Another important resource that builders should use, and might be helpful in understanding your risk level can be found here: Earthquake Ground Shaking Levels for the Wasatch Front where you can get maps at regular and expected shake levels.
Want to find out about recent seismic activity in Utah? Check out the Recent Earthquakes in the Intermountain West page