‘Definitely out of the ordinary!’ Three shallow earthquakes registering over M3.0 hit Utah in less than 48 hours – Signs for a larger, devastating quake?

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Utah is an earthquake country and ‘typically’ experiences ‘around eight earthquakes a year that are magnitude 3. Well, three shallow earthquakes registering over M3.0 hit Utah in less than 48 hours. A M3.3 earthquake struck south of Fillmore, Utah, Saturday afternoon. The day before, M3.2 and M3.7 quakes occurred in Bluffdale, Utah. Bluffdale also experienced a M2.4 aftershock on Saturday. Authorities are unclear if the quakes are the precursor for a larger earthquake. All of the earthquakes were said to be shallow and no damage was expected. 

utah earthquakes february 2019
Series of 4 earthquakes hits Utah. 3 quakes over M3.0… out of the ordinary.

Three earthquakes registering over 3.0 in magnitude have hit northern Utah within a two day period. The latest occurred Saturday at about 3pm and clocked in at a 3.3 magnitude about nine miles south of Fillmore, Utah.

Utah Emergency Management pointed out that although Friday and Saturday’s earthquakes hit northern Utah, they did not occur particularly close to each other.

The agency tweeted that while it did not expect there to be an damage, it was likely that people felt the quake’s effects as it was eight kilometers deep — a shallow earthquake as defined by the USGS.  

The orange dots indicate locations of the three earthquakes experienced Friday and Saturday
The orange dots indicate locations of the three earthquakes experienced Friday and Saturday

Bluffdale earthquakes

The recent earthquake came hot on the heels of a pair of earthquakes that struck the Utah’s Bluffdale area on Friday morning. 

At 5.02am, a 3.2 magnitude earthquake was felt by residents. It was immediately followed by a second earthquake at 5.10am, which registered at a 3.7 magnitude. 

Utah Emergency Management pointed out that although Friday and Saturday's earthquakes hit northern Utah, they did not occur particularly close to each other

Homes were said to have shaken, while residents were jolted out of their sleep. Some minimal damage to homes were reported, including cracks to foundations.   

Friday’s earthquakes were reported by more than 7,000 people in the Salt Lake Valely and Utah Valley area. 

The two quake were ‘an earthquake sequence’ and ‘typical shallow quakes,’ leading to their being felt more intensely, but in a smaller area than deeper quakes, which tend to be felt in wider areas, but with less force. 

The agency said that it was hard to predict whether the three smaller earthquakes were an indication of whether a large earthquake was on the horizon

The agency said that it was hard to predict whether the three smaller earthquakes were an indication of whether a large earthquake was on the horizon

The University of Utah Seismograph Stations noted that Bluffdale then experienced a 2.4 magnitude aftershock on Saturday night, making it the fourth earthquake to have impacted northern Utah in less than a 48 hour period, according to Deseret News. 

The science behind

Utah Emergency Management noted that the over 3.0 magnitude earthquakes that hit Friday and Saturday occurred ‘quite a distance’ from each other.  

In response to tweeters’ questions about whether the multiple earthquakes could indicate that a larger earthquake is on the way, the agency said that the nature of earthquakes made it too hard to predict accurately. 

Officials have put the odds of a major Northern Utah quake at 50 percent over the next 50 years. The state’s most populous region – a multi-county stretch that houses more than 2 million people – sits between two precarious fault lines, the Wasatch and West Valley faults. If they erupted in tandem, the devastation could be catastrophic.

The agency did admit that the three over 3.0 magnitude earthquakes in two days was ‘definitely out of the ordinary,’ but also noted that, ‘Sometimes small quakes come before large ones and sometimes nothing follows a small quake.‘ 

The Utah Department of Public Safety said Friday that the state ‘typically’ experiences ‘around eight earthquakes a year that are magnitude 3‘ and was reminding state dwellers that ‘this is one of our regular reminders that Utah is earthquake country.

In my opinion, Utah earthquakes should be a wake-up call for better preparedness. Be ready! Get prepared!

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[Deseret News, Fox13 News, KSL, DPS News]

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