3.3-magnitude earthquake rattles Park City, Utah on Monday
September 19, 2017
A 3.3-magnitude earthquake struck near Park City late Monday morning, according to the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, shaking buildings in Summit County and as far away as Utah County.
The epicenter of the earthquake, which hit at 11:21 a.m., was 7 miles northwest of Park City, according to a press release from the university. The shock, near Murdock Peak, was located 8 miles beneath the Wasatch Mountains.
The Seismograph Station's online map indicated a smaller, 1.2-magnitude tremor hit just south of the first quake at 12:42 p.m.
Keith Koper, director of University of Utah Seismograph Stations, said Monday afternoon that additional small aftershocks were possible. Another quake of a magnitude greater than 3.3 was also possible — and would render the morning's event a foreshock — but unlikely.
"We really won't know until the sequence has ended," he said. "… But that slightly increased probability decays really quickly with time. It's most likely that this thing will just taper off."
Phil Kirk, a Park City Police captain said as of 1:25 p.m. that there were no reports of injuries or damage in Park City, including to utilities like gas and water lines. The Police Department had not received any calls regarding the earthquake.
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Krachel Greenwood, community and public affairs coordinator for Summit County, said shortly after the tremor that the county was also not aware of any injuries or damage.
Almost immediately, Park City residents took to social media seeking to confirm that what they'd felt was, in fact, an earthquake. People as far away as Murray reported online that they also felt a strong rumble.
Molly Miller, a resident of Prospector, was sitting in her home office when her house began shaking and creaking. She said in an interview that she knew right away it was an earthquake. She quickly jumped up from her desk and placed herself in a doorway.
"The first thing that ran through my mind was, 'Oh my gosh, I haven't even done any emergency preparation,’" she said. "I thought it was a little one, but I didn't know — maybe it was just the beginning. It was the first earthquake I'd ever felt in my life and it really did shock me."
Miller estimated that she felt the quake for 15 seconds, and she was particularly worried because experts have said for years that the Wasatch Front is due for a major earthquake. She and a group of friends have recently discussed becoming more prepared for such an event, but she hadn't yet started.
According to the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, there is a 57 percent chance that an earthquake of at least 6.0 magnitude will hit the Wasatch Front in the next 50 years and a 43 percent chance of a 6.75-magnitude-or-greater tremor. Experts say the potential for serious damage and loss of life in such an event is high.
Given that, Miller said Monday's quake shook her into action.
"This is a pretty big call for action for me," she said. "As silly as that may be, it's not going to be silly when the big one hits."
Koper said Utahns should always be prepared because a major earthquake may hit with little or no warning. However, Monday's tremor does not increase the likelihood of one happening along the Wasatch Front.
The earthquake comes just weeks after a 5.3-magnititude quake hit near Soda Springs, Idaho, on Sept. 2, which many residents felt along the Wasatch Front. Dozens of aftershocks rumbled through the area in the ensuing days, according to the University of Utah Seismograph Stations.
The press release states that Monday's earthquake was the fifth of 3.0 magnitude or greater within 16 miles of the epicenter since 1962. The largest was a 3.6-magnitude quake four miles west of Park City in 1999.
For tips about preparing for an earthquake, and what to do when one hits, visit this site.