The 2013 Bingham Canyon landslide, moment by moment

In spring 2013, observation systems at Utah’s Bingham Canyon copper mine detected ground movement in a hillslope surrounding the mine’s open pit. Out of caution, mine managers evacuated personnel and shut down production, waiting for the inevitable.


On April 10, at 9:30 p.m. and again at 11:05 p.m., the slope gave way and thundered down into the pit, filling in part of what had been the largest man-made excavation in the world. Later analysis estimated that the landslide was at the time the largest non-volcanic slide in recorded North American history. Now, University of Utah geoscientists have revisited the slide with a combined analysis of aerial photos, computer modeling, and seismic data to pick apart the details. The total volume of rock that fell during the slide was 52 million cubic meters, they report, enough to cover Central Park with 50 feet of rock and dirt. The slide occurred in two main phases, but researchers used infrasound recordings and seismic data to discover 11 additional landslides that occurred between the two main events. Modeling and further seismic analysis revealed the average speeds at which the hillsides fell: 81 mph for the first main slide and 92 mph for the second, with peak speeds well over 150 mph.


The study shows how the team’s methods can be used to remotely characterize a landslide, and the details they elicited from the data may be useful in planning for and modeling future landslide events.

The results are published in Journal of Geophysical Research-Earth Surface.


Animations of both phases of the slide can be found here:

UUSS and University of Utah Seismology at AGU 2016

AGU Fall Meeting 2016 (American Geophysical Union) presentations from UUSS and other University of Utah Seismologists.

Amir Allam

Jamie Farrell

Paul Geimer

Keith Koper

Guanning Pang

Kevin Ward

Sin-Mei Wu

Hao Zhang


Salt Lake City’s Fix the Bricks Program

Fix the Bricks is Salt lake City’s plan to help homeowners afford seismic improvments to homes.

Unreinforced masonry buildings and homes (URMs) create the greatest risk for the Salt Lake Valley in the expected Utah earthquake. Fix the Bricks, facilitates seismic improvements to URMs to save lives. Preparedness starts at home, Act Now! Determine if your home is at risk and register to receive more information about how to get started including financial incentives available for making seismic improvement.


Sign up at story

UUSS Welcomes Postdoctoral Research Associate, Dr. Hao Zhang


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.”

Dr. Bob Smith’s interview on NPR’s Hear & Now

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson takes a tour of Yellowstone National Park’s geyser basin with a park ranger and a scientist who’s been studying the geology of the park for nearly 60 years.

Yellowstone is home to more geysers than any place on Earth, and researchers are still learning about how they work.


Dr. Bob Smith, coordinating scientist at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory and an emeritus professor of geophysics at the University of Utah.

Rebecca Roland, park ranger at Yellowstone National Park.


Post-doc in Earthquake Seismology at the University of Utah

The University of Utah Seismograph Stations (UUSS, 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: 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 ( or UUSS Associate Director Kris Pankow (

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.


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.



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.



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



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



Attendees gather in the lecture hall prior to the program.


UUSS Director, Dr. Keith Koper, gives opening remarks

Dr. Keith Koper, welcomes attendees.



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



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.



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



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.



Buffet line in the Sutton Building confluence.



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.



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


ShakeOut Day is April 21, 2016

News Release — ShakeOut day will not disappoint for preparedness storytelling on April 21

State of Utah


Lieutenant Governor

Department of Public Safety
Division of Emergency Management



ShakeOut Day is April 21, Lots to Cover

More than 960,000 are currently signed up to participate, making us on track for the largest participation ever. Events scheduled in Salt Lake, Carbon, Utah and Davis counties.

Joe Dougherty, PIO
Utah Division of Emergency Management

SALT LAKE CITY — The Great Utah ShakeOut is back!

The official time for the annual earthquake drill on April 21 is 10:15 a.m. It’s not too late for the public, businesses, schools, churches or government agencies to sign up at

Already, more than 933,000 have signed up, putting Utah well on its way to reaching our goal of 1 million participants. Remember, preparedness saves time, money, effort, and most importantly, lives. We practice what to do so we respond appropriately.

Each year, the Division of Emergency Management provides a list of venues to help the news media keep coverage fresh. This year is no different. Enjoy the great drills going on this year!

Various social media channels can be used to share the ShakeOut.

  • Twitter: Follow @UtahShakeOut and @BeReadyUtah
  • Hashtags on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest: #ShakeOut
  • Periscope: Follow UtahShakeOut and Be Ready Utah for a live look at the drill at the Capitol.

Preparedness videos on YouTube

  • Utah: Preparedness Now
  • Be Ready Utah — Make a Kit

Members of the news media and their stations or offices should also assess their organization’s preparedness. You can help the public by playing a broadcast of the ShakeOut drill, which you can download, along with transcripts here:

Story ideas

  • What are schools doing to prioritize buildings that need seismic upgrades?
  • What preparedness apps are available for smartphone users?
  • Conduct a home-hazard hunt. Interview a homeowner who wants to be more prepared.
  • What are good preparedness steps for businesses?
  • How to communicate in a disaster – Text first, talk second

Graphical downloads, including web banners and Facebook cover images available here:

Great Utah ShakeOut public drills

Thursday, April 21

State Capitol Campus:

Where: 350 N. Main Street, Utah State Capitol
When: 10:10-10:45 a.m.
What: The Capitol campus will drop, cover and hold on as fire alarms are pulled. State employees will then evacuate and practice reuniting at evacuation points. Come see a drop, cover and hold on drill in action as employees in the Division of Emergency Management hit the ground at 10:15 a.m. Starting shortly after 10:30, Utah DEM and the state emergency response team will participate in a variety of exercises, discussing state agency response to disasters the rest of the day.
Contact: Joe Dougherty, 801-664-1530,

University of Utah:

Website here:
What: 2016 Shakeout U of U Campus Drop, Cover, Hold On Drill
Where: The University of Utah – President’s Circle.
When: 10:15a.m. – 10:18 a.m.

Provo City:

What: City Center Evacuation at 10:15 and EOC Set-up in Classroom B at Rec center from 8:00-13:00
Where: City Center and Classroom B at Rec center.
Contact: Chris Blinzinger

Visuals:  Evacuation of City Center and Set-up and testing of EOC communications.Centerville City:

Venue name: Centerville City
Location: 250 North Main, Centerville
Dates: April 21 and April 23
Point of Contact:  Paul Child 801-599-2409


April 21: our city employees will drop, cover and hold on.  After which, we will have a meeting with all city employees talking about earthquakes and how they will affect their families and work environments.  We will also have a quick communications check in with all 4 districts in our city.

Saturday, April 23: Saturday   9:45 – 10:45

We will have a functional exercise including all 4 districts in our City.

The city will be placing 2 hazard markers in each district indicating broken water/sewer lines, downed power lines etc.  The district’s themselves will also set out their own hazard’s and placards.

At 10:00 rapid damage assessors will canvas Centerville and report back to their area IC.  The area’s in turn will report to their district IC’s and the districts will then filter information they feel they cannot handle  or that the city needs to be aware to handle and report it to the City EOC.

In total we should have 4 ICP and the city EOP functioning and communicating with each other.

Carbon County:

Carbon County will host an open discussion on earthquake response in coordination with the Utah Great Shake Out on Thursday, April 21, 2016 at the Carbon County Events Center
Time: 2:30PM TO 5PM.
Goal: Gain a better understanding of countywide capabilities and gaps. The meeting, for county jurisdiction officials, will help improve the core efforts of preparedness, planning, response, mitigation and recovery.

Mountainstar Healthcare drills at participating hospitals will kick off at 11 am

Primary contact:
Audrey Glasby
Mountainstar Healthcare

St. Mark’s Hospital (see below), Taylorsville ER (overwhelmed by patients / divert / transport to Jordan Valley Hospital), Lone Peak Hospital, Ogden Regional Medical Center, Mountain View Hospital

Visuals: Mobile hospital at St. Mark’s Hospital

Starting at 11 a.m. and will run for 30 to 45 minutes

USAR Task Force will be rescuing patients from the hospital’s “collapsed west tower.”  A tunnel underneath St. Mark’s Hospital will be used to simulate the collapsed west tower – numerous patients/caregivers trapped – search and rescue. Because this will be a tight space, the hospital will be accepting one pool photographer and one pool reporter to enter the space. The pool reporter and photographer will need to share their info with requesting stations. If your station is interested in this opportunity, be the first to contact Audrey Glasby at 801-573-3567.

Meanwhile, outside the hospital, the following activities will be taking place:

Lowering patients outside the hospital building: Central Tower (by ER lobby doors)

Moulaged (disaster makeup) patients will be transported, as well.

Hazmat team (nuclear medicine equipment compromised)

Central Healthcare: managing supplies and manpower

MountainStar AirCare SST Coalition – Coalition communications trailer

The Utah Hospital Association will also be available to discuss Utah’s new Crisis Standards of Care, the decision-making process for doctors. The spokesperson will be Dr. Mark Shaw from IHC. He was integral in writing the standards of care.


Events are also happening at IASIS hospitals
Please contact Jodi DeJong if interested
(801) 647-0477

Salt Lake Regional Medical Center (decontamination process), Jordan Valley West (VA medical tent, fire extinguisher training)

The hospitals’ community partners include the following:

Search and rescue Urban Search and Rescue Task Force (1 team and 1 dog team (including Salt Lake City Fire), South Salt Lake and Unified Fire Authority, Unified Police Dept, Gold Cross Ambulance, Salt Lake, Summit and Toole County Coalition, Northern Healthcare Coalition, Central Healthcare Coalition, Salt Lake Valley Health Department.


Looking for other locations? 

Here’s the entire participant list

Note: The Great Utah ShakeOut, now with 960,000 registered participants, is happening April 21, 2016, at 10:15 a.m. Online at


The Division of Emergency Management (DEM) is the lead State agency for emergency preparedness, disaster response, recovery and mitigation for the State of Utah. Our mission is to support local, state and tribal governments in their emergency management duties. Online at and

View this document online
Utah Department of Public Safety
Utah Emergency Management

New Report Forecasts the High Likelihood of Damaging Earthquakes During the Lifetime of Many Utah Residents

A Press Release from the authors of a comprehensive study of earthquake probabilities for the Wasatch Front Region in Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming.

Salt Lake City (April 18, 2016) In the first comprehensive study of its kind for Utah, Earthquake Probabilities for the Wasatch Front Region in Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming forecasts the chances for damaging earthquakes in the Wasatch Front region. In the next 50 years there is a 43 percent chance, or nearly 1-out-of-2 odds, of at least one large earthquake of magnitude 6.75 or greater. For a moderate quake of magnitude 5 or greater the probability is 93 percent, or greater than 9-out-of-10 odds.

“Considering that the average age of Utah’s citizens is the youngest in the nation at about 29 years, there is a realistic chance that many current residents will experience a large earthquake in their lifetime,” says Ivan Wong, Principal Seismologist at Lettis Consultants International and lead author of the report.

The soon-to-be-released report is a collaboration of 14 scientists from academia, federal and state agencies, and private industry. The results underscore the importance of being prepared for damaging earthquakes in Utah.

See the PDF link below for the full press release regarding the report.

Full Press Release

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.



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.