UUSS 2016 Annual Report

cover page of 2016 annual report2016 Annual Report

In April of 2016 the University of Utah Seismograph Stations (UUSS) celebrated the 50th anniversary of its creation as an organizational unit within the University of Utah. We celebrated this milestone with a party honoring the founding director, Dr. Ken Cook, and the unveiling of a new historical display just outside the Rio Tinto Earthquake Information Center. The ceremony was well attended by current and former UUSS employees, colleagues in the College of Mines and Earth Sciences, representatives of sister agencies in the Utah Earthquake Program, members of Dr. Cook’s family, and many other friends of UUSS. Here’s to another 50 years of reducing the risk from earthquakes in Utah through research, education, and public service.

2016 was also a year of transition for UUSS. Our administrative manager, Martha Knowlton, retired after 14 years of service. We will miss Martha’s attention to detail, professionalism, and strong work ethic. UUSS communications specialist Sheryl Peterson, who has worked in various capacities for UUSS since 1989, also left in the fall of 2016. Sheryl’s competence, cheerfulness, and organizational skills will serve her well as she pursues a new career as director of advancement operations at Southern Virginia University. We will also miss Katherine Whidden, a research scientist, student mentor, and the UUSS public information officer, who left in 2016 (ending a five-year stint with UUSS) to travel the country in an RV with her husband, John. In other news, Cindi Meier, who worked at UUSS during 1994-1999, agreed to return as our new full-time administrative officer. In 2016, we also welcomed Dr. Hao Zhang to UUSS as a post-doctoral research scientist focusing on the detection and location of sequences of very small earthquakes.

We look forward to an exciting new year in 2017. I encourage you to visit our revamped web page at quake.utah.edu to stay up- to-date on our new initiatives and products as well as to nd out about the latest seismic activity in Utah. You can also follow UUSS on Twitter with the handle @UUSS_Quake_Info.

Ongoing Yellowstone Earthquake Swarm North of West Yellowstone, MT.

August 03, 2017 UPDATE: The University of Utah Seismograph Stations (UUSS) is monitoring an earthquake swarm which is currently active on the western edge of Yellowstone National Park.  The swarm began on June 12th, 2017 and, as of 13:00 MDT on August 2nd, 2017, is composed of 1,562 events with the largest magnitude of ML 4.4 (MW 4.4) (Figure 1).  The swarm consists of one earthquake in the magnitude 4 range, 8 earthquakes in the magnitude 3 range, 134 earthquakes in the magnitude 2 range, 505 earthquakes in the magnitude 1 range, 879 earthquakes in the magnitude 0 range, and 35 earthquakes with magnitudes of less than zero.  These events have depths from ~0.0 km to ~14.0 km, relative to sea level.  At the time of this report, there were 125 felt reports for the M4.4 event that occurred on June 16, 2017 at 00:48:46.94 UTC (June 15, 2017 at 18:48:46.94 MDT).  The M4.4 event has an oblique strike-slip moment tensor solution (Figures 1 & 2).  In addition, four other earthquakes in the swarm have been reported felt.



Figure 1. Location of the earthquakes that are part of the swarm as of August 3, 2017 at 01:00 PM MDT (red symbols).


Figure 2. Moment Tensor solution for the M4.4 event showing the fit between data (black) and synthetics (red dashed).

Moment Tensor for M 4.5

Figure 3. Animation of the June 2017 Yellowstone earthquake swarm.  Earthquakes appear as red circles as they happen, then transition to blue.  After they have occurred, they appear as black circles.  The size of the circles are proportional to the earthquakes magnitude.

Earthquake swarms are common in Yellowstone and, on average, comprise about 50% of the total seismicity in the Yellowstone region.

UUSS will continue to monitor this swarm and will provide updates as necessary.


If you think you felt an earthquake, please fill out a felt report at: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/dyfi/.