Populous Areas Near Utah’s Wasatch Front Fault Lines Prone to Large Quakes

May 4, 2020

Fault lines along the Wasatch Front in north-central Utah are much bigger than initially thought, a study said.

The Utah Department of Natural Resources released new maps accompanied with a four-year study showing there is a significant risk in densely populated and developing areas near active fault lines, KUTV-TV reported.

There are certain faults in the region that have the capability of producing a 7.6 magnitude earthquake, 700 times larger than the 5.7 earthquake that shook Magna in March, the study said.

The study provides a better picture of where the active faults are, but there is still not enough information to pinpoint specific locations. Geologists recommend site-specific investigations for building plans.

“As a result of this research, we better understand where we’ve had surface-rupturing earthquakes in the geologic past, and where we may have them in the future,” Utah Geological Survey hazards geologist Emily Kleber said.

In the event of a large earthquake, scientists predict significant damage to homes, schools, businesses and other buildings and infrastructure along the Wasatch Front.

“Knowing where fault scarps are present helps us make better land use decisions now and in the future,” Kleber said. “This new study provides detailed fault mapping and delineates ‘special study zones’ for the Wasatch fault zone from southern Idaho to central Utah.”

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