1934 – Hansel Valley, UT – M 6.6

Intermountain Seismic Belt Historical Earthquake Project

March 12, 1934 – Hansel Valley, UT – M 6.6

Believed to be the most severe earthquake in Utah’s recorded history, the 1934 Hansel Valley earthquake was reportedly felt as far west as Elko, Nevada and as far east as Rawlins, Wyoming. Felt reports were also issued from as far north as Boise, Idaho and as far south as Richfield, Utah.

The main shock occurred approximately 30 miles north of the Great Salt Lake at 8:05 a.m. local time. Five significant aftershocks were recorded over a nearly eight-week period from March 12 to May 6, 1934.

Some of the most severe damage was reported in Logan, Utah and surrounding communities. At least two public buildings in the area had to be abandoned. A three-story brick building on the campus of the Utah State Agricultural College was, reportedly, split from top to bottom. In Preston, Idaho, the shaking dislodged a 150-pound capstone from the top of the local high school building, separating the west wall from the rest of the building.

Other reports of damage included falling chimneys, broken windows, cracked walls and falling plaster. Swinging light fixtures were observed during the earthquake. Furniture rocked back and forth or rolled across floors. Dishes and goods fell from shelves and clocks stopped. Near the epicenter, in Snowville, Utah, the water main was broken and out of service for 10 hours. In some locations schools were evacuated and closed, particularly following the first aftershock.

Near the epicenter of the earthquake the appearance of several fissures or cracks in the ground surface were observed. Witnesses reported hearing loud roars as the fissures ruptured. A geologist who later examined the area reported one of the fissures to be about eight miles in length. He found a maximum fissure width of 14 inches, with a maximum drop of the ground on one side measuring 19 inches. Other reports noted a downward displacement of the ground on the east of the larger, predominantly north-south trending fissures.

Phenomena described as sand or mud cones were observed near the epicenter. There were also sightings of new springs and streams changing course. Artesian wells that had been long dry began flowing with water. Other wells, active prior to the earthquake, ceased to flow for several hours.

In many locations, shaking from the earthquake sent people running out of doors. There were also reports of people fainting from fright. In areas of intense shaking, people were unable to stand during the earthquake.

Two deaths were attributed to the earthquake. Ida Atkinson died instantly from a heart attack upon hearing that the shaking she felt was due to an earthquake. Salt Lake City waterworks employee Charles Bithel was injured when a six-foot trench in which he was working at the time of the earthquake caved in. Bithel died from his injuries the following day in a local hospital.

 

For additional information about this earthquake:

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ISB Hist EQ Proj

 

1959 – Kanab, UT – M 5.7

Intermountain Seismic Belt Historical Earthquake Project

July 21, 1959 – Kanab, UT – M 5.7

This earthquake was felt over an area of 21,000 square kilometers, primarily in southern Utah and northern Arizona, according to newspaper accounts. Dishes and canned goods were knocked to the floor, cars were jostled on roads, and minor rockslides occurred. Felt reports were received from as far south as Flagstaff, Arizona–approximately 195 miles from the epicenter.

Near the epicenter, in the Kanab-Fredonia area, there were also reports of windows and dishes breaking, as well as canned goods tumbling from market shelves. In Kanab, the police chief reported bricks falling from at least one chimney. And plaster in the county courthouse was shaken from the walls. A truck driver traveling through the area at the time of the earthquake related that he “thought his steering had gone haywire.”

The earthquake, which occurred at 10:39 am local time, sent frightened Kanab residents scurrying from their homes–but no injuries or significant damage was reported.

 

For additional information about this earthquake:

Earthquake Summary 3D Newspaper Articles 3D Additional Resources 3D Blank Thumbnail

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ISB Hist EQ Proj

 

1915 – Provo, UT – M 5.0

Intermountain Seismic Belt Historical Earthquake Project

July 15, 1915 – Provo, UT – M 5.0

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According to newspaper accounts this earthquake was felt throughout the Utah, Salt Lake, and Bear River Valleys, and also in Provo Canyon, Tooele, Parley’s Canyon, and Park City, Utah.  The felt area measured 13,000 square kilometers.

In parts of Utah Valley buildings swayed, chimneys toppled, building walls were cracked, and individuals were knocked from chairs and couches. Wallpaper was split over doors and plaster was cracked and shaken loose. Dishes and pans rattled. In Provo Canyon shaking from the earthquake caused rockslides which blocked at least one road. At Utah Lake an upheaval of water, like a small tidal wave, was sighted.

In the Salt Lake Valley clocks stopped, windows and dishes rattled, and furniture was knocked over. Cans and packages were shaken from grocery store shelves.

Shaking appeared to be more pronounced in the upper floors of taller buildings both in Provo and Salt Lake City. In some locations both in the Utah and Salt Lake Valleys, the shaking caused individuals to rush out of buildings. This was the case throughout Provo where people hurried into the streets wondering what had happened. It was reported that more than an hour passed before the city resumed normal activities.

There were no reports of injuries or significant damage from the earthquake.

 

For additional information about this earthquake:

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ISB Hist EQ Proj

 

1975 – Yellowstone National Park, WY – M 6.1

Intermountain Seismic Belt Historical Earthquake Project

June 30, 1975 – Yellowstone National Park, WY – M 6.1

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This earthquake was located approximately 5 miles ESE of Norris Junction, in Yellowstone National Park. According to newspaper accounts, no casualties resulted from the earthquake and damage was minor. Near the epicenter, telephone service was temporarily knocked out. The earthquake also dislodged boulders that temporarily blocked a road between Norris and Madison Junction – however, campgrounds and park facilities remained open.

A park service employee reported, “There wasn’t any noise; no dishes rattled. There was just a gentle rolling of the floor.”

The earthquake shook buildings and rattled windows 200 miles away from the epicenter, and was reported felt both in Great Falls and Billings, Montana. The total felt area of the earthquake was 50,000 square kilometers.

A significant aftershock (magnitude 5.5) occurred just over 17 months later on December 8, 1976, approximately 5 miles W of Norris Junction. This earthquake was the largest since the June 30, 1975 main shock, and was felt over an area of 5,000 square kilometers.

Park officials noted that the aftershock shook buildings, but no damage was reported. One park official believed that damage to the terrain would likely be limited to rockslides. The earthquake occurred after the close of the summer tourist season – the park service received no inquiries about the earthquake from individuals inside park boundaries.

 

For additional information about this earthquake:

Earthquake Summary 3D Newspaper Articles 3D Additional Resources 3D Blank Thumbnail

For more information about this project:

ISB Hist EQ Proj

 

UUSS Welcomes Postdoctoral Research Associate, Dr. Hao Zhang

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Dr. Hao Zhang recently joined the University of Utah Seismograph Stations (UUSS) as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Earthquake Seismology. He comes to Utah from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Northwestern University where he was a postdoctoral researcher.

Dr. Zhang received both his B.S. and Ph.D. in Geophysics from Peking University. His doctoral dissertation was titled, “Imaging the Rupture Processes of Earthquakes Using the Relative Backprojection Method”.

Some of his research accomplishments include:

  • Rapidly resolving rupture processes of the 2015 Mw 7.8 Nepal earthquake and its Mw 7.3 aftershock using a multi-array back-projection method.
  • Relocating a scattering source in the Lake Superior region.
  • Detecting microseismic events and performing cluster analyses in the south Chicago suburban region.
  • Studying the crustal structure in the Middle Continent Rift System using P-wave receiver functions.
  • Investigating the topography of the 410 km discontinuity in the Java subduction zone using 3-D pre-stacked Kirchhoff migration.

Dr. Zhang will work with UUSS faculty, staff, and students on problems of earthquake detection, location, and characterization in the Intermountain West.

Kristine Pankow (Associate Director, UUSS) says, “We are excited to have Hao join our research team here at UUSS. He brings valuable skills that will help us move our research forward.”

Post-doc in Earthquake Seismology at the University of Utah

The University of Utah Seismograph Stations (UUSS, quake.utah.edu) invites applications for a one-year appointment as Postdoctoral Research Associate in Earthquake Seismology. The successful applicant will work with UUSS faculty, staff, and students on problems of earthquake detection, location, and characterization in the Intermountain West. Potential research topics include (1) application of template detection methods to seismicity induced from geothermal and mining operations, as well as to naturally occurring seismic swarms and aftershock sequences, (2) high-resolution, multi-event relocation using methods such as Bayesloc and HypoDD, (3) estimation of full moment tensors for small-to-moderate seismic events using waveform inversion and first motion polarities, (4) discrimination of tectonic earthquakes from induced earthquakes and non-earthquake sources. While primary datasets are available from regional seismic networks, in some cases supplemental data will be generated using the University of Utah pool of 95 three-component, short-period (5 Hz) Nodal seismometers. The successful applicant will be expected to participate in the Nodal seismometer field campaigns. In addition to research, the successful applicant will be expected to serve rotations as a UUSS duty seismologist (leading the initial UUSS response to events of interest), which will periodically require 24/7 availability via cell/pager. A Ph.D. in geophysics or a related field is required at the time of appointment. The position is renewable for a second year, pending acceptable progress and availability of funding. Opportunities for teaching, mentoring, and outreach will be made available for those interested in pursuing an academic track. To apply submit a cover letter, a curriculum vitae, a statement of research interests, and contact information for three references to the following webpage: https://utah.peopleadmin.com/postings/52629. The nominal start date is July 1, 2016, however there is flexibility in the actual start date. Review of applications will begin immediately. Questions may be directed to UUSS Director Keith Koper (koper@seis.utah.edu) or UUSS Associate Director Kris Pankow (pankow@seis.utah.edu).

Celebration Recognizes UUSS 50th Anniversary and Founding Director

The University of Utah Seismograph Stations (UUSS) commemorated 50 years of earthquake monitoring, research, education and outreach with a celebration held April 8, 2016 in the Frederick Albert Sutton Building on the University of Utah campus. The celebration was also an occasion to recognize the efforts and contributions of UUSS founding director, Dr. Kenneth L. Cook.

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Sign points arriving guests to the Frederick Albert Sutton Building.

Special guests attending the celebration included family and friends of Dr. Cook, including his daughters, Carla Rae Cook and Shauna Cook Clinger. Also in attendance were representatives from both Rio Tinto Kennecott and the Utah Division of Emergency Management; faculty, staff, and students from the College of Mines and Earth Sciences – including Dean Francis H. Brown; and former UUSS staff members.

A permanent historical display, describing the role Dr. Cook played in the founding and development of UUSS, has been installed outside the Rio Tinto earthquake information center in the foyer on the first floor of the Sutton Building.

In conjunction with the celebration, members of the UUSS staff conducted tours of the earthquake information center.

The celebration also included a program held in the Rev. Marta Sutton Weeks Lecture Hall. UUSS Director, Dr. Keith D. Koper welcomed attendees and shared opening remarks. Dr. William P. Johnson, Incoming Chair gave remarks on behalf of the Department of Geology and Geophysics.

Dr. Walter J. Arabasz, former UUSS Director, presented “Historical Perspective on the University of Utah Seismograph Stations,” with particular emphasis on the organization’s development during the tenure of its first director, Dr. Kenneth L. Cook.

Shauna Cook Clinger presented a life sketch of her father, Dr. Kenneth L. Cook, illustrated with photos from his early years. Carla Rae Cook shared several childhood remembrances of her father.

In closing, Dr. Keith Koper spoke about UUSS today and into the future. He noted the potential involvement of UUSS in the development of an earthquake early warning system for the State of Utah.

Following the program, guests enjoyed dinner and visiting in the Sutton Building confluence.

 

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Historical display honoring Dr. Kenneth L. Cook and the founding and early years of UUSS.

 

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Martha Knowlton (left) and Dr. Jim Pechmann (center) both of UUSS discuss the display with Dr. Paul Jewell of the Department of Geology and Geophysics.

 

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UUSS Seismic Network Manager, Valeriu Burlacu, gives a tour of the Rio Tinto Earthquake Information Center.

 

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UUSS Associate Director, Dr. Kristine Pankow presents an overview of Utah seismicity to tour participants.

 

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Attendees gather in the lecture hall prior to the program.

 

UUSS Director, Dr. Keith Koper, gives opening remarks

Dr. Keith Koper, welcomes attendees.

 

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Dr. William Johnson, offers remarks on behalf of the Department of Geology and Geophysics.

 

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Program attendees (front row, right to left): Dr. Keith Koper (UUSS), Dr. Walter Arabasz (UUSS), Cordell Clinger, Shauna Cook Clinger, Carla Rae Cook, Piper Rhodes (Rio Tinto Kennecott), Nigel Steward (Rio Tinto Kennecott), Dr. Kim McCarter (Department of Mining Engineering)

 

Former UUSS Director, Dr. Walter Arabasz, gives an overview of the early history of UUSS.

Dr. Walter Arabasz, gives an overview of the early history of UUSS.

 

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Carla Rae Cook shares remembrances of her father, UUSS founding director, Dr. Kenneth L. Cook.

 

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Dr. William Johnson (left) with department colleagues, Dr. Tony Ekdale and Kim Atwater; and Dr. Francis H. Brown (right), Dean of the College of Mines and Earth Sciences.

 

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Buffet line in the Sutton Building confluence.

 

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Dr. Walter Arabasz (standing) stops to chat with (l to r) John Crofts, Judy Watanabe, and Bill Carey of the Utah Division of Emergency Management; and former UUSS staff member Paula Oehmich.

 

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Dr. Jim Pechmann (left) visits with former UUSS staff members (l to r) Erwin McPherson and Bill Richins and spouse.

 

Video recording of program speakers – program outline below.

50th Program Outline

 

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.