U of U seismologists monitor swarm of earthquakes in southeastern Idaho

Posted at 10:11 PM, Sep 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-12 08:52:12-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Seismologists with the University of Utah Seismograph Stations have been monitoring hundreds of small earthquakes in southeastern Idaho over the past 10 days, many of which have been felt by people living in Utah.

While many in northern Utah are feeling the larger quakes, does this mean a more destructive one is on the way?

“There's been hundreds and even thousands of aftershocks,” Koper said.

As swarms shake southeastern Idaho and northern Utah, blue, green and red spikes cover the seismographs at the University of Utah.

“This is one that was a magnitude 4.5 that happened this morning,” Koper said while pointing out the spikes on the seismograph.

That earthquake was felt in Idaho and Utah. Researchers say this swarm started two Saturdays ago, when a magnitude 5.3 quake shook Idaho. Some people living in the Salt Lake Valley said they could feel that one too.

“An earthquake of this size happens once every 10 years in the Utah region so, for us, this is like a ten year event, so this is something we're pretty excited about,” Koper said.

This seismograph station has never seen so quakes in such a short amount of time.

With all this activity they're sending more detectors out, scattering them across South Eastern Idaho.

“I went out and did the actually sighting, picked where we were gonna put these things,” said Dave Drobeck, a seismograph technician.

The detectors allow seismologists a glimpse of what's going on under the earth's surface.

“This is earthquake country and so there's a long history in the geological record of these earthquakes,” Koper said.

But do all these recent quakes mean Utahns should brace for the big one?

“There's always that small possibility that a bigger one, a magnitude six or seven, is gonna happen, and eventually it will,” Koper said. “We can almost guarantee at some point in the next 100 years there is going to be something like a six or seven on the Wasatch Front.

Seismologists say that’s the worst case scenario. They expect those swarms to last another week or month.

You can track the quakes here