SCIENCE + TECHNOLOGY

Expert says small earthquakes don’t mean a bigger one is coming

Jan 3, 2023, 7:30 PM | Updated: Jan 5, 2023, 2:44 pm
Another earthquake hit Utah, following two yesterday, around 2:58 p.m. It was located 2.8 miles nor...
Nine earthquakes have registered in northern Utah in the last two days. A research scientist at the University of Utah Seismograph Station says that doesn't necessarily mean a bigger one is coming. Photo credit: Canva.

LOGAN, Utah — In the past two days, there have been nine small earthquakes registered in northern Utah.

Among those, was a 3.2 magnitude earthquake that registered 6 miles west of Logan on Tuesday.

Is there cause for concern? Katherine Whidden, a research scientist at the University of Utah Seismograph Station, told KSL NewsRadio those smaller quakes typically don’t mean a bigger one is coming.

“They aren’t necessarily a sign that something bigger is coming,” she said. “But there is a small chance, about a five percent chance, that any earthquake in Utah will be followed by a larger event.”

She said that happened on Tuesday when the 3.2 magnitude quake came after a smaller earthquake that registered at 2.9.

“There is a small chance that could happen,” she said. “But that’s not what usually happens.”

Whidden also said the small earthquakes don’t point to a new fault line running under Cache County.

“All of the faults and all of the seismic activity that we have in northern Utah is related to the Wasatch Fault,” she said. “Whether the earthquakes are on the Wasatch Fault itself or not, the vast majority of them are not on the Wasatch Fault itself. That large fault is the one that could have a magnitude seven that we are really worried about.”

She says the recent earthquakes likely felt more like a jolt rather than a long shaking episode. 

Mark Jones contributed to this report.

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Expert says small earthquakes don’t mean a bigger one is coming