Experts trying to make sense of Northeastern Utah's 'unusual' earthquake

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - Experts are trying to make sense of an unusual earthquake that shook Northeastern Utah, Wednesday morning.
 
The University of Utah's Earthquake Information Center detected the shock within seconds of it happening.  It came in at 4.1 magnitude around 7:00 AM, with an 2.7 magnitude aftershock about two and a half hours later. 
 
"It's a big earthquake for us," said Keith Koper (Ph.D.), a University of Utah Professor of Geophysics. 
 
Koper says earthquakes happen in Utah all the time, typically one or two a day. 
 
"Each one of these red dots is an earthquake," he said, pointing to a map of the state. 
 
But the one that shook Northeastern Utah, Wednesday, was different from most, he says. 
 
"This one happened in the stable part of the state -- to the east away from the fault -- so it was pretty unexpected," Koper explained. 
 
It was also quite substantial, he says, but because its epicenter traces to the remote Southern Uintah Mountains, fewer people felt it.
 
"Normally, if a magnitude 4.1 was in the valley, it would be incredibly widely felt and could have been damaging," Koper said. 
 
The University of Utah has close to 200 seismometers scattered across the state.  They measure ground movement using springs. 
 
"The faster the vibration of the spring, the stronger the current that's generated out," Koper said.  
 
Koper's team is now using the tools to keep close tabs on all other activity, but so far, they have recorded just one aftershock.
 
"It's really unusual, actually... Normally, with a magnitude 4.1, you might expect tens of aftershocks or even 100 aftershocks," he explained. 
 
He says other aftershocks can still happen anytime now, but we also know Utah is definitely due for a much bigger shakeout.
 
"We know that there's been magnitude 7.0 earthquakes that have happened right here in Utah..." Koper said.  "There is no reason for this to just turn off all of the sudden," he explained, adding that it could happen as early as tomorrow or several years down the road. 
 
Koper says he really stresses preparedness because when it hits, people will want to be ready.  
 

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