Seismograph Stations Reaches 50-year Mark

50th InvitationThe centennial of the installation of the first seismographs on the University of Utah campus by Dr. James E. Talmage was celebrated on June 29, 2007. April 2016 brings another milestone―the 50-year anniversary of the founding of the University of Utah Seismograph Stations (UUSS).

On April 11, 1966, the University of Utah Board of Regents recognized the Seismograph Stations as an organizational entity in formally appointing Dr. Kenneth L. Cook as its first director, a position he held until 1976.

The term “University of Utah Seismograph Stations” originally referred to a small group of seismographic installations with onsite photographic recording. In 1962 the University operated stations on campus, in Price, and at Dugway; data from a fourth station owned by Utah State University in Logan were incorporated. Attendants at the remote stations routinely mailed paper seismograms to the University for analysis and interpretation. Data added from three other stations in Utah during the mid-to-late 1960s enabled a skeletal statewide seismographic network to emerge.

During Governor Calvin L. Rampton’s term of office (1965–1977), Dr. Cook served on two advisory bodies to the governor. Persuaded that seismic monitoring was vital to the welfare and safety of the people of Utah, Governor Rampton initiated state funding to the University of Utah Seismograph Stations in 1971 and helped establish this funding as a line-item appropriation from the Utah State Legislature beginning in 1972.

Dr. Kenneth L. Cook, 1974 (Photo: Salt Lake Tribune)

Dr. Kenneth L. Cook, 1974 (Photo: Salt Lake Tribune)

A number of significant changes over the past 50 years have contributed to an evolution in the character of UUSS. These include changes both in technology and in motivations for seismic monitoring. Regional earthquake monitoring has long been prompted by damaging earthquakes. In the 1960s, the monitoring of underground nuclear tests became important. In the 1970s, there was a growing interest in earthquake research and in earthquake prediction. The 1980s brought the added need to serve emergency management and earthquake engineering. Since 2000, UUSS has been involved in multipurpose seismic monitoring as part of an Advanced National Seismic System.

In 1974, a major transformation of the University of Utah’s seismograph network began under the direction of Drs. K. L. Cook, R. B. Smith, and S. H. Ward (director, 1976–1980). Onsite-recording installations were superseded by a regional telemetered seismic network involving radio, microwave, and telephone telemetry. In early 1974, there were two telemetered stations in the UUSS network. By the end of 1975, an additional 25 telemetered stations were added to form a regional network with continuous centralized recording on the University campus that covered much of the Wasatch Front area (recording was on multi-channel film recorders). Geographic coverage expanded to other parts of the Utah region with a total of nearly 60 stations operating by the end of the 1970s.

Under Dr. Robert B. Smith (director, 1980–1985), digital seismic recording of the UUSS regional seismic network began in January 1981. Also, a local seismic network in the Yellowstone National Park region, originally installed by the U.S. Geological Survey, was integrated into UUSS operations and research.

Multi-year efforts by Dr. Walter J. Arabasz (director, 1985–2010) to foster a strong state earthquake program and to help achieve congressional authorization of an Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) resulted in access to state and federal funds for improved seismic monitoring and enabled significant modernization and statewide expansion of the UUSS regional seismic network. In 2000, in advance of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, UUSS began implementing a real-time earthquake information system together with the integration of urban strong-motion monitoring into the UUSS regional seismic network. Further growth followed major increases in state funding in 2007 and in ANSS funding in 2009. In 2009, UUSS moved its network operations into seismically-hardened, state-of the-art facilities in the Frederick Albert Sutton building on the university campus, and the Rio Tinto Earthquake Information Center was inaugurated.

UUSS Director, Dr. Keith D. Koper (Photo credit: Remi Barron, UofU)

UUSS Director, Dr. Keith D. Koper (Photo: Remi Barron, UofU)

Since, 2010, Dr. Keith D. Koper (director, 2010-present) has overseen the implementation of a state-of-the-art ANSS Quake Monitoring System to detect and locate seismicity in the Utah and Yellowstone regions. As of April 2016, UUSS maintains and operates 237 seismic stations (ANSS network codes: UU [194 stations], WY [28 stations], and NP [15 stations]). As a member of the Utah Earthquake Program, UUSS collaborates with state agencies and professional partners to better understand Utah’s earthquake threat and to advise policy makers (both state and federal) regarding seismic-related safety issues.

Graphic credit: Utah Earthquake Program (Utah Division of Emergency Management, University of Utah Seismograph Stations, and the Utah Geological Survey).

(Graphic courtesy of the Utah Earthquake Program: Utah Division of Emergency Management, University of Utah Seismograph Stations, and the Utah Geological Survey).

As UUSS enters its 51st year of operations, it continues to pursue a four-fold mission: 1) Earthquake recording and monitoring in the Utah and Yellowstone regions as a member of the ANSS, 2) Generation of timely earthquake-related data products for research and seismic safety planning, 3) Academic research and teaching as part of a larger seismology group within the Department of Geology and Geophysics, and 4) Education and outreach to increase awareness and understanding of earthquakes and the earthquake threat in Utah and Yellowstone.

 

Notes:

1) “Historical Review of Earthquake-Related Studies and Seismographic Recording in Utah” by Walter J. Arabasz, in Earthquake Studies in Utah 1850 to 1978, Special Publication of the University of Utah Seismograph Stations and the Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah, July 1979, pp. 33-56.

2) “Seismographic Centennial, June 29, 1907–June 29, 2007: Commemorating the centennial of the installation of the first seismographs in Utah by Dr. James E. Talmage and celebrating 100 years of earthquake recording at the University of Utah” by Walter J. Arabasz, University of Utah Seismograph Stations, July 2007, 12 pp.

Former UUSS Director, Dr. Walter J. Arabasz, Honored by the Seismological Society of America

Dr. Walter J. Arabasz, Research Professor Emeritus of Geology and Geophysics and forWJA web photomer director of the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, will be presented with the Seismological Society of America (SSA) 2015 Frank Press Public Service Award for his extraordinary public service in modernizing, expanding and promoting seismic monitoring for public safety in the United States. The award will be presented during the SSA annual meeting in Reno, Nevada, April 20–22, 2016.

The Frank Press Public Service Award is presented each year to an individual, group of individuals, or organization that has made outstanding contributions to the advancement of public safety or public information relating to seismology.

Dr. Arabasz began his career at the University of Utah in 1974 and was appointed director of the University of Utah Seismograph Stations in 1985, a position he held until his retirement from university in 2010.

He played a leading role in motivating the Utah State Legislature to create the Utah Seismic Safety Commission and in helping to build an effective state earthquake program.

During a 15-year period leading up to congressional authorization of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) in 2000, Dr. Arabasz was a key player in laying the groundwork for and shaping the vision of the ANSS. He then worked to implement elements of the ANSS in Utah, in the Intermountain West region, and nationally. He has served on the national Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction, providing guidance and oversight to the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program.

Of particular note in his award nominations was Dr. Arabasz’s efforts following the 2007 Crandall Canyon, Utah mine collapse. Dr. Arabasz assisted experts on both the state and national levels to reach a better understanding of the circumstances of the collapse and the implications for the larger issue of mine safety. He also assisted the media and public in gaining a greater awareness and understanding of mining-induced seismicity.

Magnitude 4.0 east of Jackson, WY

us10004t1f_ciimOn February 26, 2016, an earthquake of magnitude 4.0 struck about 31 km (19 miles) east of Jackson, WY at about 5:00 PM local time.  The quake was reported felt by over 150 people in the Teton region.  There were no reports of any damage.  The earthquake occurred in the Gros Ventre range east of Grand Teton National Park near the location of previous seismic activity.  In 2010 there was a swarm of earthquakes, including a M4.8 earthquake, ~11 km (7 miles) north of this event.Fig04.1_seis_map

 

The Teton region is part of the Intermountain Seismic Belt, a region of relatively high seismicity in the Intermountain West that extends from northern Arizona to western Montana.  Most of the seismicity in the Teton region occurs east of Grand Teton National Park in the Gros Ventre range while there is very little earthquake activity on the Teton Fault.

 

 

 

 

News accounts for this event can be found at the following links:

Jackson Hole News & Guide, February 26, 2016

Casper Star Tribune, February 26, 2016

Jackson Hole News & Guide, February 27, 2016

 

Magnitude 3.8 north of Bullfrog Marina on Lake Powell, Utah

Released: March 1, 2016 12:50 PM MST

The University of Utah Seismograph Stations reports that a minor earthquake of magnitude 3.8 occurred at 12:07 PM on March 01, 2016 (MST). The epicenter of the shock was located beneath Mount Ellsworth in southeastern Utah, 17 miles north-northeast of the Bullfrog Marina on Lake Powell and 43 miles south of the town of Hanksville, UT. Today’s earthquake occurred in an area of relatively low seismic activity. Since 1962, the largest earthquake to occur within 15 miles of the epicenter of today’s event was a magnitude 3.1 event on July 25, 1979.

Anyone who felt the earthquake is encouraged to fill out a survey form either on the Seismograph Stations web site: www.quake.utah.edu or the US Geological Survey website: earthquake.usgs.gov.

Magnitude 2.9 near Heber, Utah

Press Release

University of Utah Seismograph Stations

Released: January 29, 2016 5:30 PM MST

The University of Utah Seismograph Stations reports that a small earthquake of magnitude 2.9 occurred at 04:23 PM on January 29, 2016 (MST). The hypocenter of the shock was located 8 miles below Heber City, UT, and 31 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, UT. The earthquake was reported felt in Heber City and the nearby town of Midway, UT. Since 1962, a total of 4 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater have occurred within 16 miles of the epicenter of today’s earthquake. The largest of these events was a magnitude 4.3 on October 01, 1972, located three miles east of Heber City.

Anyone who felt the earthquake is encouraged to fill out a survey form either on the Seismograph Stations web site: www.quake.utah.edu or the US Geological Survey website: earthquake.usgs.gov.

Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country

The Utah Seismic Safety Commission publication Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country—Your Handbook for Earthquakes in Utah gives information on earthquake hazards and preparedness, and is available here.

Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country

Download a PDF copy.
Pick up a free copy from the Natural Resources Map & Bookstore.
Pick up a free copy from the Utah Division of Emergency Management (1110 State Office Building, Salt Lake City).
Pick up a free copy from your city or county emergency manager (for more information see the government section of your local telephone book).