Was Idaho’s recent earthquake caused by Utah’s?

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – It’s been two weeks since Utah experienced the “Big One.” A 5.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Magna that did more than rattle people’s nerves.

“That was what we call a normal earthquake,” said Dr. Jamie Farrell, a Seismologist at the University of Utah Seismograh Stations in Salt Lake City.

Since Utah’s March 18th quake, Tuesday’s earthquake in Idaho has some asking if the two were related or if it’s just coincidence.

“The 5.7 just isn’t large enough to effect anything as far away as the earthquake in Idaho which was over 300 miles away,” said Dr. Farrell. “It was a magnitude 6.5, and it was located about 46 miles west of Challis or just north of Stanley, Idaho.”

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Farrell explains how Idaho’s earthquake is different from the one experienced in Utah. “The type of earthquake it was was a strike-slip earthquake. What that means is this is where two parts of the earth are rubbing against each other or sliding horizontally against each other. That’s different that the type of earthquake we had here in Utah on March 18th.

He goes further to explain the Earth was stretching apart when the Beehive State began to shake. “To accommodate that stretching, you have a fault that ruptures. The western half drops down and the eastern half goes up a little bit.”

Since the earthquake, Utah residents have been experiencing their fair share of aftershocks. “Aftershock sequences on earthquakes are variable,” said Farrell. “They typically last from weeks to months depending on the earthquake. Some larger earthquakes you’ll have aftershocks going on for years. Don’t be surprised in the next week or so, or couple of weeks you still might feel a few earthquakes as this aftershock sequence continues especially if you’re close to Magna.”

In the wake of these earthquakes, Dr. Farrell says there are lessons that can be learned to prepare for the next “Big One” especially since earthquakes can’t be predicted.

“In Utah, the biggest earthquakes we can get on the Wasatch Fault are a 7-7.6 range.”

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