March 18, 2020 | Earthquakes Near Salt Lake City, Utah
On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, at 7:09 a.m., Utah was struck by a 5.7 magnitude earthquake along the Wasatch Fault system near the town of Magna, which is just outside of Salt Lake City. This was the largest earthquake in Utah since 1992. Many aftershocks followed soon after with the largest aftershock measuring at M 3.5, March 24th, just before 10:00 p.m., with aftershocks still continuing. In the days to come, many are estimating hundreds or thousands more aftershocks.
Substantial Damage Reports
Reports of damage in the historic town of Magna go beyond the power outages that occur in smaller earthquakes. There has been damage to construction sites, widespread structural damage, and mobile homes being knocked off of their foundations. Stone buildings have crumbled, brick buildings and chimneys have shed bricks. Cracks and ceiling damage were also reported in many other buildings. Thankfully, there have been no reports of serious injuries.
Many businesses and means of transportation were closed for several days to make a full assessment of structural damage. More than 500 bridges in the area were affected by the earthquake as well as airport runways, highways, and railways. Emergency proclamations were issued to open federal funding opportunities to help cover costs.
In addition to building inspectors searching for structural damage, geologists were searching for landslides and other geological disruptions that happen after an earthquake occurs. Since this part of Utah was formed on an ancient lake-bed, part of the reason the earthquake was so strong is due to a large amount of weak rock and sediment in the basin.
Large Aftershock Probability
As with all large earthquakes, speculation of a an even larger earthquake following this one has been considered. According to Keith Koper, a University of Utah seismologist, there is a 4-5% chance, or 1 in 300, for a larger earthquake. Based on historic earthquake sequences, the probability is low although an earthquake cannot be realistically predicted.
There is an average of 700 earthquakes each year including aftershocks in Utah, according to the University of Utah. Only 13 of those have a magnitude of 3.0 or higher. Since 1994, earthquakes have been exponentially increasing in frequency. Earthquakes are random and not much can be done to predict the cause of frequency, so it’s best to be prepared with not only material supplies but also earthquake insurance.
Forensic Engineering Specialists
Engineering Specialists Inc. has nearly 30 years of field experience in analyzing the damage to vehicles, residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. We can work on any project in any state, nationwide. When you or your business needs to confirm the extent of damage or how to correct a problem, email us at email@example.com or call us, toll-free, at (877) 559-4010.