Utah at high risk for earthquake, experts say

Utah is now recognized as a “high hazard” state for earthquakes, said Robert Smith, professor of geology.

Smith and other experts on earthquakes shared information with the public at a conference at the Salt Lake City Library on March 2 for the Utah Science Center’s “Science in Society” series. The presentation was titled “The Shaky Wasatch.”

Presenters said that Utah could very likely have earthquake problems within the next 100 years. ?

“There are 212 potentially active faults and fault segments (in Utah) that are currently able to generate an earthquake,” said Bill Lund from the Utah Geological Society.

The most dangerous sites cover the Salt Lake and Murray areas along the Wasatch Mountains.

“We know there’s earthquake danger in Utah because of historic record of felt earthquakes and studies of the ground,” said Walter Arabasz, a research professor at seismograph stations on campus.

The good news is that there are currently 220 stations throughout Utah, 75 of which are centered in Salt Lake City.

If a major earthquake were to occur, estimations show that approximately 200,000 homes in Salt Lake City would be without running water for three months.

“The estimated fatalities is 2,200, and the emergency services will be at their wit’s ends to cope with all the damage,” said Steven Bartlett of the department of civil and environmental engineering.

Many students who attended the lecture found the information interesting and educational.

“The ?earthquake prediction process was very interesting-it’s such a complex process of investigation,” said Justin Seal, senior in geological engineering.

Other students were worried about the effects an earthquake could have on their families.

“The presentation made me realize that my house is unsafe,” said Dan Seely, a junior in geological engineering. “There’s a bookcase that could fall on my daughter at home that I never even considered.”

The presentation is now available at www.kcpw.org/shaky-wasatch.php.