Earthquake study looks at how ground could move under Salt Lake City
Oct 26, 2021, 6:12 PM
(Steve Griffin, Deseret News)
SALT LAKE CITY — Live in Utah long enough, and you’ll hear somebody talking about the big earthquake that people have been expecting to hit, literally, for generations. For a state that boasts 200 active faults, the expectation isn’t unwarranted.
Today researchers from the Utah Geological Survey and from Boise State University are trying to understand more about the faults that run directly under Salt Lake City, the state’s capital city. And their newly published research paper has new information about the type of damage that Salt Lake City residents and businesses can expect.
Findings from the earthquake study
The first finding is that secondary faults may connect two faults in Salt Lake City, the East Bench and the Warm Springs fault.
The second finding involves “lateral spread deposits” in the downtown Salt Lake City area.
“Those (lateral spread deposits) are a result of earthquake ground shaking and liquefaction,” said Adam McKean, a senior geologist for the Utah Geological Survey at the Utah Division of Natural Resources.
“Liquefaction is where the water that’s in the soil moves in an earthquake. It shakes it. It vibrates it.”
The US Geological Survey defines liquefaction as taking place “when loosely packed, water-logged sediments at or near the ground surface lose their strength in response to strong ground shaking” and that “liquefaction occurring beneath buildings and other structures can cause major damage during earthquakes.”
The takeaway from the earthquake study
The findings from their research are published in the open-access journal The Seismic Record.
Contributing: Simone Seikaly