Yu’s research finds that central Utah’s volcanoes are still active, but no evidence of an impending eruption

Yu’s research finds that central Utah’s volcanoes are still active, but no evidence of an impending eruption

Salt Lake City – Researchers from the University of Utah say an unusual series of earthquakes that occurred in central Utah in 2018 and 2019 are a reminder of the ancient Utah volcanoes in the area that are active. Fortunately, they say there is no sign of an imminent outbreak.

The search that was It was first published in Geophysical Research Letters last month, Centered around a pair of strange earthquake chains in the Black Rock Desert near Fillmore. One earthquake occurred in central Utah on September 12, 2018, and the other occurred on April 14, 2019. Earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 and 4.1 magnitude were recorded, respectively, and produced several aftershocks.

The location of both earthquakes was the Black Rock Desert volcanic field located in central Utah between I-15 and the Utah-Nevada state line. The volcanic region last erupted nearly 720 years ago, giving rise to basalt cones and glacial spring flows. According to the United States Geological Survey.

In addition to the earthquakes detected by the Utah Regional Seismic Network, they were captured by temporary seismic equipment that was used less than 20 miles from the desert to monitor a geothermal well for a different project.

A team of researchers from the University of Utah, USGS, and the University of Iowa has been working on analyzing the data. Temporary equipment helped detect 35 aftershocks after the 2019 earthquake, which is nearly twice what the regular system detected.

They found that the earthquake was a mile and a half below the surface, which is very shallow for earthquakes. For example, a file A magnitude 5.7 earthquake shook the Wasatch front It happened last year about 6 miles below the Earth’s surface. The 2018 and 2019 central Utah earthquakes were not related to the Magna earthquake, the largest earthquake to strike Utah since 1992.

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A map of the volcanic field in the Black Rock Desert.  The orange triangles show the location of the University of Utah seismograph stations and the black dots show the locations of the Utah earthquakes.
A map of the volcanic field in the Black Rock Desert. The orange triangles show the location of the University of Utah seismograph stations and the black dots show the locations of the Utah earthquakes. (Image: University of Utah)

Additionally, earthquakes have not produced the “shear waves” that are common for earthquakes in Utah. Maria Missimiri, a postdoctoral researcher at seismograph stations at the University of Utah and lead author of the study, said the frequency of seismic energy was also much lower than typical Utah earthquakes. In a press release Tuesday.

“Because these earthquakes were so shallow, we can measure surface deformation (due to earthquakes) using satellites, which is very uncommon for small earthquakes of this size,” she said.

The data led researchers to believe that the earthquakes were not caused by faults colliding like most Utah earthquakes. Instead, they said their research indicates that these earthquakes were the result of ongoing activity in the volcanic field beneath the desert.

Mesimeri said both earthquakes were likely caused by magma or hot water that made its way closer to the surface and caused the earthquakes.

“Our findings indicate that the system is still active and that earthquakes may be the result of fluid-related movement in the general area,” she said. “Earthquakes can be the result of fluid pressure across rocks or the result of deformation from fluid motion that stresses surface faults.”

The good news, she added, is that there is no reason to believe the recent earthquakes are warning signs of an impending eruption. It just means it’s a site that researchers may want to pay attention to with more interest.

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